Kerry McWilliams

Founder and CEO, Lightwork

Founder and CEO, Lightwork:  A charity with a mission to give everyone the knowledge, tools and skills to sail through life’s storms, flourish and thrive.

Kerry has more than 20 years’ frontline experience supporting people through emotional crises, life transitions and trauma recovery. Kerry has worked in residential and community support with Womens Aid, Simon Community and Community Family Support Teams. Accredited by CPCAB and QQI as a life coach, she is an EFT Advanced practitioner and trainer with a busy private practice working with young people and families, foster carers and staff teams.

Being by nature, innovative and solution focused, she became frustrated and alarmed at the escalating crisis in young people’s mental health in Northern Ireland.

Kerry is a firm believer in the power of experiential learning to change behaviour:  Repeated use of a regulation technique, with scientific understanding and biofeedback has the power to change the impulsive, unhealthy choices young people make by offering a viable, reliable alternative they can trust. In 2018, she founded Lightwork and created a preventative programme for young people, to give them the knowledge tools and skills we all need for social and emotional health. Qualitative research, underpinning an evidence and logic model were developed in collaboration with Queens University Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation and she is excited to present it at the conference


Workshop Four

An invitation to ‘Try This’

‘Try This’ is a ten week programme designed to impact the escalating crisis in the mental health of young people. Designed for delivery in classrooms, the programme delivers measured outcomes in the social and emotional health of young people, improved cognitive and academic performance and improved relationships. The approach is practical, playful and innovative, based on the latest research in behaviour change, self-regulation and trauma recovery.

Created by Kerry McWilliams with qualitative research, underpinning evidence and logic, the model was developed in collaboration with Aideen Gildea from Queens University Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation.

After two and a half years of research, focus groups, testing, evaluation and trials, adjusting in response to feedback from almost 3000 young people, and hundreds of teachers and parents, we’re ready to tell you the story and present the programme.

To quote some year 12 (15/16-year-old) students… “I didn’t think this would work, but it totally does - I use it every day“, “It’s a game changer.” and even “makes me melt inside and gives me goosebumps”