Inside a special school in Blackpool we’re listening to youngsters explain their life goals.

Almost half of them list “YouTuber” as one of their dream jobs.

One girl says she wants to move to Moscow and join the Russian army.

Another lad, called Jacob, is just delighted he’s got his first bus pass – showing it off as if he’s got the keys to a Blackpool sweet shop.

They are in one of their regular “resilience” classes, in which youngsters are helped to overcome tough times in their lives.

Jacob says the class 'helps you relieve all the things that's been stuck inside'
Image: Jacob says the class ‘helps you relieve all the things that’s been stuck inside’

It’s not unique to this special school and is actually being rolled out to every student in Blackpool.

It is part of the town’s “resilience revolution” – a grand title for a big rethink of how everyone approaches mental health problems.

More from Blackpool

Jacob, 11, tells us about some of the disturbing episodes he’s had to overcome in his short life. He calls them his tough times.

He says the resilience class, led by wellbeing coaches from mental health charity Lancashire Mind, “helps you relieve all the things that’s been stuck inside you for so long because it helps you by not worrying – it helps you overcome them”.

A mental health pathway has been made on Talbot Road
Image: A mental health pathway has been made on Talbot Road

Inevitably, there will be critics who scoff at the very idea of resilience lessons. What happened to kids toughening themselves up? What about the school of hard knocks? We marked 75 years since D-Day this week, the ultimate lesson in resilience.

But wellbeing coach Annie Tyas told us that the way children live their lives through the prism of social media means there’s an increasing need for this kind of help.

“Like it or not, the world has really changed,” she said. “Everything is instant and we are just trying to show them that when something goes wrong it isn’t the end of the world.”

Close to the North Pier in Blackpool they have almost finished another part of this plan.

Forty-two paving stones have been laid at intervals along Talbot Road to create a mental health pathway – conveying simple messages about the positive things in life.

It’s unlikely to make a big difference on its own, but this new approach is now laid into the fabric of the town.

It’s been made possible by an £11m grant from the National Lottery to form the HeadStart initiative.

Pauline Wigglesworth who oversees the HeadStart programme
Image: Pauline Wigglesworth oversees the HeadStart programme

On council budgets it would have been almost impossible. Blackpool was ranked the most deprived town in England a few years ago, and while mental health problems exist everywhere, in poorer towns the need is often greater and the provision of support often weaker.

Pauline Wigglesworth, who oversees the HeadStart programme, told Sky News: “It’s not news that Blackpool struggles – we usually end up on the wrong part of every league table but what is great about the resilience revolution is we are turning that on its head.

“We have actually got a plan to make Blackpool a more resilient town to grow up in, and young people are front and centre of that.”

The project is reaching almost every young person in the town. Measuring success isn’t straightforward but there is now a growing list of young people in Blackpool achieving small goals and avoiding the traps they could easily fall into.

Life will still sometimes be “the school of hard knocks”, but they make no apology in Blackpool for equipping their young people with the skills to survive it.

Read the full story here