Calling all parents, educators, caregivers – anyone working with young minds  –  Are you worried about your child’s or young persons safety? Online, in everyday life or emotionally? Then this conversation is for you! 

Maybe you have wondered:

  • Why your reactions sometimes get out of hand?
  • You know how you “should be,” but “in the moment” it doesn’t quite pan out that way?
  • Why does the fight, flight, or freeze responses take over, leaving you feeling out of control?
  • How can you diffuse meltdowns and shutdowns that have become part of your daily life?
  • How “feeling safe” impacts our behaviours?


If you are a parent or have young minds in your life?

  • What’s the best way to support a child who is now avoiding school?
  • How do you navigate your neurodivergent child’s needs when struggling to get the professional help you need?
  • Do you want to find a way to build a better relationship with your teen or tween?
  • Do you want to empower them to feel safe?
  • Be safe in the world we live in today?

In celebration of Children’s Mental Health Week UK, (Feb 5-9) Watoto Play (pronounced: WA-TOW-TOW) invites you to a poignant and 90-minute Conversation plus Q&A Panel Discussion with leading experts in the field of neuroscience, parenting and trauma. Learn more about your child’s safety – physically, emotionally and online – and what as a parent you can do to keep your child feeling safe. 


Scheduled online via  Zoom for Wednesday, 7th February at 7pm on Zoom, the event will delve into the profound impact of “feeling safe on our behaviour and relationships, how trauma changes us”. 



If you’re a parent: wanting a great relationship with your child; interested in feelings; want to know polyvagal theory (what’s that then?); need to gain a bit of steadiness in your parenting and home life or are a professional working with young people, this discussion will be so valuable for you! 

The event is hosted by Yasmin Shaheen-Zaffar who a neurodivergent mom first, is a BACP Accredited Relationship Trauma Counsellor, Safe & Sound Protocol Practitioner, and Neurofeedback Practitioner,

Yasmin says “Through my lived experience and learning about polyvagal principles I have learnt one of –  if not the biggest motivator of human behaviour is feeling safe enough. And this is what I want to share with other parents – so they can as parents be empowered to build great relationships with their kids. In fact anyone who is opening to listening ”  


Yasmin reflects on the recent heartbreaking news of Mia Janin in the UK. Reading Mia’s father’s statement – whilst shedding light on her own journey as a neurodivergent parent and trauma therapist. Yasmin emphasises the challenges she’s faced growing-up and attempting to create a safe-space for her daughter in a world that often feels unsafe – is unsafe. 

Mia’s story and the story of thousands of others becomes a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle, as Yasmin shares, “As a parent it seems I put one fire out, and another one starts. Many parents spend a lifetime telling their children “Don’t go there, don’t do that, don’t wear that, don’t speak to XYZ – it’s not safe. Surely it’s time to change the narrative?”. 

This event aims to explore the critical role shame and safety play in our relationships, sharing with parents and caregivers actionable steps to improve their relationships with the young minds in their lives. 

Yasmin adds I know this may be difficult to hear for some people  “lets not forget those that end up in the criminal justice system, their families, their communities.  I am sure no parent thinks that is where they want their child to be, to harm others. 


A GEN Z’rs Perspective 

Participants will  gain insights into the lengths Yasmin as a neurodivergent parent has gone to to keep her daughter safe, both from herself and the world at large. The experiences of a Gen Z teenager, VVZ, will provide a fresh perspective on navigating a world that often feels unsafe.

The agenda includes introductions to guest speakers, an intergenerational family conversation with: Dr. Stephen Porges, Seth Porges, Yasmin Shaheen-Zaffar and Miss VVZ. 


The event also offers an expert panel discussion and Q&A session with 

  • Dr. Stephen Porges: Polyvagal Theory Creator 
  • Seth Porges: Co author of book “Our Polyvagal World” 
  • Yasmin Shaheen-Zaffar – Relational Trauma therapist & founder of Watoto Play, a company that creates creative therapeutic resources to empower parents and families. 
  •  Professor Divine Charura – Professor of Counselling at York St John University 
  • Catherine Knibbs – Cyber Behaviour Educator & TED X speaker. 
  • Suzanne Alderson  – the founder of Parenting Mental Health, a UK registered charity and global community that supports, skills and empowers over 42,000 parents of children and young people with poor mental health as they navigate the practical and emotional impacts on themselves, their families and their lives. 

What Will  We Share? 

The conversation will unravel and demystify the complexities of our nervous system through the lens of Polyvagal Theory, featuring the theory’s creator, Dr. Stephen Porges, and Seth Porges, co-authors of Our Polyvagal World – How Safety and Trauma Change Us.

Yasmin, your host for the evening, shares her transformative journey from a shouty dysregulated and overwhelmed mom to a steady-connected mom, emphasising the crucial benefits of integrating Polyvagal principles into parenting, workplaces, school curricula, and our communities.

The event recognises the challenges of attending live, offering a catch-up video for 90 days after registration, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to engage with this transformative discussion.

The Q&A Panel Discussion will tackle the ultimate question:

How can we create a world that feels safe, especially considering the unjust distribution of shame and safety in our world? 

As an attendee you are offered a unique opportunity to submit your queries in advance to our esteemed panel, including the creator of Polyvagal Theory Dr Stephen Porges, and leading figures  in neuroscience, parenting, and mental health.

To submit a query email [email protected] with email heading “QOur Polyvagal World” 

Designed for a diverse audience, including SEND/SENCO workers/educators, stressed-out parents and caregivers, neurodivergent families, educators, occupational therapists, mental health professionals, high-stress professions like medical and emergency services, and coaches. 

This event is for anyone striving to build better relationships and seeking to understand the impact of the past and present on their behaviours today. 

Key Details: 

Meet The Speakers

Dr. Stephen Porges: is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland.

He served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed papers across several disciplines including anesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, paediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse.

In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behaviour and emphasises the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioural problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioural, psychiatric, and physical disorders.

Dr. Porges is the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol ™ (SSP), which is used by therapists to improve social engagement, language processing, and state regulation, as well as to reduce hearing sensitivities.

Seth Porges: An American director, producer, journalist, and television commentator. He produced, wrote, and co-directed the feature documentary Class Action Park, which premiered as the number one movie on HBO Max in August 2020. Seth has collaborated with his father, Dr. Stephen Porges, as the author of “Our Polyvagal World”.

Yasmin Shaheen-Zaffar: A BACP Accredited trauma counsellor, Safe and Sound Protocol practitioner, neurofeedback practitioner, and Leeds Ambassador for the Creative Counsellors Community and The WAVE Trust. Yasmin is also the creator/owner of Watoto Play – a company that provides therapeutic resources and programs, especially for the neurodivergent community which include Scribbledeedo™, Polyvagal Teen®, Neurosloth®, The Hearts Whisper® as well as creator of Lets Stop Shouting Awareness Day. Yasmin as a neurodivergent parent and mom first is a passionate advocate for empowering parents and sharing of mental health psychoed.  she says ” 

My resources have been used by thousands of therapists and families. I think therapy is great – but the really change happens when we provide the tools to empower parents and families without shaming them”.

VVZ: A Gen-Z’r student game developer and creator of the ‘What’s My State?’ online game.

Dr. Divine Chahura: Professor of Counselling Psychology at York St. John University: Divine is a HCPC-registered Counselling Psychologist and UKCP . He completed his undergraduate training and postgraduate degree programmes in Leeds, UK. 

He holds a BSc (Hons) in Counselling and Therapeutic Studies, and an MSc degree Public Health and Health Promotion and another MA degree in Psychotherapy. He completed his Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at Teesside University (U.K.) and has worked as a clinician in a range of clinical settings including the NHS, voluntary and private sectors, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. 

As an academic, Divine been invited to present keynote lectures and research training at numerous institutions including in the UK and internationally.

Catherine Knibbs: Cyber Human Behavior Technologist, Psychotherapist, and Researcher. Catherine is a Doctoral Researcher, an award-winning Online Harms and Cyber trauma Consultant, Public Speaker, Educator, and Author of six books about Children and Technology (5 to date with Routledge Psychology alone). She is a Social Media Educator, Podcaster, and a TEDx Speaker.

Suzanne Alderson: Suzanne Alderson is the founder of Parenting Mental Health, a UK registered charity and global community that supports, skills and empowers over 42,000 parents of children and young people with poor mental health as they navigate the practical and emotional impacts on themselves, their families and their lives. 

Suzanne started the community on Facebook in 2016 because she couldn’t find the information, support or connection she was desperate for when her 14 year old daughter was bullied and attempted suicide. She is a fierce advocate of the parent and champions the powerful role they can play in positively impacting their family’s mental health.

Suzanne’s bestselling book ‘Never Let Go – How to Parent Your Child Through Mental Illness’ was published by Penguin Random House in 2020 and shares her experience and the approach she devised – ‘Partnering Not Parenting’ – to support her daughter to recovery. The book has helped thousands of parents to make sense of the extraordinary experience through the 3 step ‘Partnering Not Parenting’ approach. She also runs the ‘Partnering Not Parenting’ course for parents and practitioners as well as coaching and mentoring parents 1-1 and in small groups.

Who We Support:
Watoto Play support Principle Trust Children’s Charity is a local Yorkshire charity dedicated to aiding children from across Yorkshire who face various challenges.

They extend their assistance to those who are underprivileged, disadvantaged, have disabilities or additional needs, confront life-limiting conditions, or have experienced poverty, trauma, or abuse.

The charity provides valuable support by granting families a free week-long respite holiday at any of the six holiday homes available. The organisation’s objectives revolve around enhancing the mental health and well-being of children and their families during times of difficulty or challenge.

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Our Polyvagal World

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Wed. 7th of Feb 2004 7.15PM GMT
Live With Dr Stephen PORGES

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