USM Tackling the Blues campaign shortlisted for UK Content Awards

Theo Walcott, wearing his Everton FC kit, crouches down next to a boy and a girl from Linacre Primary School who wear light green jumpers.
Everton FC’s Theo Walcott chats to children from Linacre Primary School.

A children’s mental health awareness campaign which saw pupils’ drawings of their Blues heroes take centre stage at a Goodison Park matchday has been shortlisted for a national award.

The ‘USM Supports Tackling the Blues’ campaign has been shortlisted in the ‘Integrated Content Campaign of the Year’ category in the 2020 UK Content Awards.

As part of USM’s wider marketing campaign #unlockthepotential, USM invited children from Linacre Primary School in Bootle to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience and enabled them to see their portraits of Everton first-team players replace all in-game player graphics at the Blues’ Premier League fixture with Newcastle United in January.  

A child's drawing, in felt tip, of Fabian Delph in his Everton kit.
Fabian Delph

The children’s drawings appeared on stadium screens, in the matchday programme and across Everton’s official matchday social media and website output at the match. The images trended on social media and gained international media coverage with fans both at the stadium and online praising the children’s drawings and the partnership work between Everton and Edge Hill University on the ground-breaking Tackling the Blues programme.

Linacre Primary is one of a number of schools taking part in the ‘Tackling the Blues’ programme, delivered jointly by Everton in the Community and Edge Hill University, and funded by the Premier League.

The initiative aims to teach young people strategies for good mental and physical health, promote emotional literacy and improve self-esteem and confidence through a range of physical and class-based activities. 

Drawing portraits is just one of the ways that children are encouraged to explore emotions, behaviours and practise peer support.

Club partner USM invited the Linacre pupils to Everton’s training ground, USM Finch Farm, for the initial drawing session –  where they were surprised by Club captain Seamus Coleman, midfielders Fabian Delph and Theo Walcott, and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, who sat for their portraits in person and took part in a Q&A with the children on the themes of acceptance, self-esteem, diversity and respect.

Professor Andy Smith from Edge Hill University, who alongside Everton in the Community designs and delivers the Tackling the Blues Programme, said: “To see this awareness-raising activity, informed by our research, recognised with a shortlisting for a national award is excellent news following the additional funding we have received from the Office for Students and Research England to expand the Tackling the Blues project over the next two years, and helps strengthen our work in this important area.

“Raising awareness of the importance of children’s mental health, and ensuring that children have access to the right tools they need to promote positive mental health is even more important now given the impacts of Covid-19 on school-based mental health, and the impact it is having on the inequalities which characterise the families and communities in which children live.” 

The ‘USM Supports Tackling the Blues’ campaign will compete against Flow Creative & The Mental Health Foundation – Mental Health Awareness Week Campaign, Hill+Knowlton Strategies & Smart Energy GB – The Missing Piece, Impression & Harvey Water Softeners – Making Water Work Harder, International SOS – COVID-19 Insight and Intelligence Campaign and The Think Tank – Asendia 7 Destinations Campaign. The winner will be announced on 20 October 2020.

The ‘USM Tackling The Blues’ matchday activity has also been shortlisted for Best Fan Engagement Campaign at the 2020 Sport Business Awards, the winner of which is announced in December.