We are enormously proud of the young people taking part in our Art, Nature and Wellbeing programmes. It's no easy feat to enter into a room of strangers and take on a new challenge, but this terms cohort of young makers have risen to it and are excelling!
Friends are being made, art is being made, confidence is soaring and there are smiles all around.
What's happened so far...
The group have had the opportunity to experiment with and learn more about ceramics, felt making, printing, collaging and using found natural materials to create abstract 'paintings' onto cloth; following themes of the natural world.
Of the feedback surveys collected to-date, 19% tell us they are anxious or nervous before arriving at the sessions, 56% say they look forward to it and the rest are a mix of indifferent and excited!
When we asked how they feel after getting stuck into the session, we start to hear feed back like 'I'm proud of myself', 'I feel excited', 'I'm more relaxed' and 'I'm less anxious'. Only a small percent are 'no different' from the start.
So that we can better understand the individuals motivations for joining our wellbeing programmes, we ask 'What made you want to join the group?'. The majority responded with 'to help my mental health' and 'to make new friends'. We've also been hearing a lot of 'to improve my wellbeing', 'learn something new', 'to gain confidence' and 'escape from everyday life'.
While some of these responses are to be expected, as we designed this programme for those suffering with mild-moderate mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression, it is never easy to hear, especially from people so young.
Our aim is to offer a safe, welcoming space for experimentation and learning creative skills, which have no right or wrong outcomes but do empower decision making and nurture a curiosity to explore the materials and techniques set out each week. All while seeking to tackle some of the above feelings of loneliness and anxiety, even if only for a short period of time each week.
Which is why, when we ask 'Did you enjoy today's workshop?' we love hearing that 60% loved it! and while others weren't as enthusiastic... no one said they hated it or didn't enjoy themselves.
Delving a bit deeper, here are some of the quotes from young people as to why they're having a good time:
It was interactive
It was really fun, and everyone was nice
I loved it the whole way through
I didn’t know ceramics, but it was really fun
It was really fun and I love pottery
Everyone was really happy, it was a great atmosphere
I like art
I like what we are doing every week
I liked the freedom of the collage
Tried new things and enjoyed it
Liked the way the session was structured
So, we very much feel like we're on the right track and are looking forward to the next half of term with our young makers!
We would like to thank the dedication and hard work of the participants involved, the lead artist Susan Erskine-Jones and guest artists Emi Fujisawa, Anne-Marie Abbott and Amy Walsh, and of course, our public whom generously donated to make this course happen; you have made a huge difference to these young people, thank you.