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Local woman on a mission to bring colour back into the lives of our children

Ballymena native and Child Psychotherapist, Eileen Russell, has watched with growing concern as the number of children struggling with mental health in her community has continued to rise.

She felt so passionately about this growing problem that she retrained as a Play Therapist and opened WayMaker Child Therapy in 2018.

Eileen said:

“My aim is to bring colour back into the lives of our children through play. I grew up in a loving, nurturing home but my dad had a severe mental illness. I was lucky as a child to have the opportunity to play in miles of fields in the countryside where we lived. That is what helped me build my resilience to deal with the adversities that were inside my house.”

As life slowly returns to normal following the coronavirus pandemic, we can plainly see that restrictions have had a huge impact on the lives of our children and young people.

According to a report from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) more than half of 16-year-olds who took part in the research felt their mental and emotional health had been affected by the pandemic.

At the same time, pressures on the NHS mean that many children are simply not receiving the support they need.

According to figures provided by the Department of Health, over 2000 children are waiting to be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Kells based organisation, WayMaker, is committed to providing high-quality therapeutic play and creative arts therapy one-to-one sessions for children and their families.

WayMaker is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to provide a service that every child can access regardless of household income.

CEO Eileen Russell has over fifteen years’ professional experience working with children and families in the public sector. At WayMaker our therapists see children and families in one-to-one sessions, and we are seeing great rewards for our efforts.

Feedback surveys with clients in 2021 show that 95% of children accessing our service experience significant transformation. Families reported a 48% reduction in emotional difficulties and a 45% reduction in hyperactivity following a series of play therapy sessions

Eileen commented:

“I firmly believe there is no such thing as a naughty child. Just a child who is trying to express what is deep within. I hold hope for all families, there is always healing in the right timing and with the right person.”

WayMaker is going from strength to strength having been recently awarded the Silver Level Innovator Certificate by the Department for the Economy.

Indeed, with the demand for play therapy growing fast, WayMaker have responded by offering interactive and experiential courses designed for teachers, social workers, Sure Start staff and other community professionals working with children. These new courses are called ‘The Healing Power of Play’ and are designed to show the many benefits of child-led play for children and their families.

If you are a professional or practitioner working with children and you want to find out more about these new courses, call Eileen on 07980704089 or visit the website at:


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