"Her aura reminds me of Diana very much, which to me is a very warm feeling," a mom who participated in the royal visit tells PEOPLE

By Simon Perry
September 17, 2015 02:55 PM
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Getty

Princess Kate high-fived youngsters, wore 3-D goggles, played a motion game in heels and called to mind another princess who had a special way with children during a visit on Thursday to a school for kids with mental health issues.

Back from maternity leave after having 4-month-old Princess Charlotte in May, it was her first public outing of a busy autumn – and she was highlighting one of her key issues.

But she was also at the Family School run by the Anna Freud Centre in London to have some fun.

Diving into FitLights, part of a Smart Gym “brain-training system” with 12-year-old Kai, who copes with ADHD and an emotional disorder, she tested her reactions and impressed his watching mother, Chantel. (The center preferred that last names remain private.)

“She’s a fantastic woman,” Chantel tells PEOPLE of meeting Kate, 33. “Her aura reminds me of Princess Diana very much, which to me is a very warm feeling.”

After the game, Kate jokingly told Kai, “I’ve pulled down your average! Well done. It was very well explained. Thank you very much for looking after me.”

Princess Kate speak with students at the Family School in London.
Mark Richards/WPA Pool/Getty

Chantel was also impressed with Kate’s well-proven agility in heels. “Considering she’s in high heels, she did extremely well,” she says. “She’s a very active, fit young mother and hands up to her. She’s very warming. It’s just in her nature. Its not someone who’s high up there, as the children said, she’s very welcoming.”

One of those, Capone, 12, who worked on the neuro-tracker with Kate, says, “She was really good. She wasn’t that competitive because I’m a little boy. But she was working with me, rather than try to beat me. She is a very nice woman, gentle with her words but down to earth. She spoke nice and calm.

“It is giving you better attentiveness, making a full and wider perspective of what you see,” he says. “It helps me with my attention span.”

Fellow participant Alfie, who deals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) like many of the Family School students, demonstrated how to do the Fit Lights. “It helps you focus and push you your goal,” he says. His mother Leeann, says, “Kate wanted to know how me and Alfie did the Fit Lights together and how we communicated.”

The royal mom spent nearly an hour at the Family School, which teaches 26 children ages 5 to 15. While helping the kids with serious emotional and behavioral issues, the school also offers joint lessons with their parents, including academic subjects as well as therapeutic support.

The school plans to move to join a new $38 million integrated site nearby that will bring children, parents and experts on young people’s mental health together at the Anna Freud Centre in September 2018.

Charity CEO Peter Fonagy told PEOPLE that Kate was “extremely knowledgeable” about children’s mental health. “She was a delight to speak to and spoke delightfully.”

“What everyone was saying was she is ‘just so human.’ People kept using the word that you don’t hear that often: ‘She’s very kind.’ She comes across as an extraordinary, caring and kind individual. She was genuinely concerned.”

Fonagy was surprised at how much she knew about the science. “I was expecting her to be interested in the ‘softer’ side but she was talking about brain imaging and genetics. She was very comfortable with that.”

Kate, who has also involved herself in how addiction and other problems like substance abuse affect families, was “very up to date about the whole field.”

“She did high fives, sat with them and worked on the Smart Gym. Her comment was, ‘This should be more widely known and more people using it.’ ”

When they were meeting earlier, chairman of the trustees Michael Samuel told her everyone was nervous about her arrival. “She told us not to worry about it and that there was no need to worry. She was very calming,” says Fonagy. “She was as concerned about us with her. She made us feel at ease.”

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