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The Hug

How can we help others at the start of the school year?

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To raise awareness of the effect of loving acts.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:

    - a baby incubator, available at:
    - twin babies hugging in an incubator, available at:
    Brielle and Kyrie Jackson as adults, available at:

  • Note: sensitivity may be needed during this assembly, especially if staff or children have experienced babies being taken care of in neonatal units.

  • Optional: you may wish to use the Bible story found in Mark 10.13-16 during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.


  1. Ask the children if they know what an incubator is. Explain that an incubator is a specialized piece of equipment that provides a controlled and protective environment. They are often used for very small babies or premature babies.

    Show the image of a baby incubator, and then tell the following story.

  2. Twin girls, Brielle and Kyrie Jackson, were born 12 weeks premature. This meant that they were tiny and not completely developed, so they needed extra care. They were placed in two separate incubators in a special section of the hospital called a neonatal unit.

    Neonatal units specialize in looking after babies who have been born early and have a low weight or a medical condition that requires specialized treatment.

  3. In the neonatal unit, Brielle and Kyrie were cared for round the clock by specially trained doctors and nurses. Babies who are tiny at birth can have many health problems, but after a while, Kyrie began to gain weight and her health stabilized. However, Brielle had only weighed 1kg at birth - thats about the same weight as seven apples - and she didn’t seem to be making any progress. The nurse who was caring for Brielle did everything she could to help, but nothing seemed to work. Then, the nurse had an idea and asked the twins parents if she could place Kyrie in the incubator with her weaker twin sister. The nurse left the babies to sleep, but when she returned, she couldn’t believe her eyes and summoned the doctors and nurses to come quickly. This is what they saw.

  4. Show the image of the twin babies hugging in an incubator.

    Brielle had snuggled up to her sister. Kyrie had then put her small arm around her as if to hug and support her. From that moment on, Brielle’s breathing and heart rate stabilized and she began to improve.

  5. Ask the children what they think made the difference.

    Suggest that it was a special bit of love and affection.

    Show the image of Brielle and Kyrie Jackson as adults.

    This is a beautiful story of the difference that love can make.

  6. Point out that, at the beginning of a new school year, children will be feeling a whole range of emotions. Some children will be new to the school; many children will be in new classes with new teachers. Some children will be excited; others will be worried or even sad. The way we treat people at the start of the year is very important.

    Point out that someone in school might be in need of an arm round them, or a hug.

  7. Ask for suggestions as to how something as simple as a smile could change someone’s day and make a difference to the start of the new school year.

    - A smile could make a new teacher feel welcome.
    - A smile could make members of staff feel that their work was appreciated.
    - A smile could make a child feel that he or she was liked and accepted.

Time for reflection

Ask the children, ‘What can we do today to give every person in school a great start to the new school year?

Pause to allow time for thought.

You may wish to listen to a range of responses.

There is a story in the Bible (Mark 10.13-16) where people bring their little children to Jesus. At first, the disciples (Jesus’ special group of friends) tell the people to take their children away. However, Jesus tells off the disciples and points out how important children are. Then, he puts his arm around the children and takes time to listen to them and pray for them. Christians believe that God cares for and loves people of all ages, and he wants us to do the same.

Let’s all think about who might need a hug or a kind word in school today.

When we go home from school today, let’s give someone in our family a hug, and see what happens!

Dear God,
Thank you for this lovely story about Brielle and Kyrie Jackson.
Help us to be kind and loving to one another, and to notice what a difference we can make.

Publication date: September 2017   (Vol.19 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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