Theatre Practitioner Kim Hackleman explains how our young participants have been marking Mental Health Awareness Week
With this week marking Mental Health Awareness Week, Theatre Practitioner Kim Hackleman explains how our Click Spring team have been working with young participants during the lockdown.
As well as promoting wellbeing by keeping young people connected and creative, their project Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen has this week invited them to explore and reflect on the theme of mental health.
“Can isolation break someone?” questions a participant during one of the Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen sessions this week.
Launched on 12 May, the Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen project has bought participants from the Belgrade Theatre’s various youth theatre groups together to explore how Zoom might be used as a medium for developing new creative work.
The idea for the project was devised by our Creative Producer, Hannah Barker, who is co-creating and co-leading the sessions together with myself and our Embedded Community Producer Krysztina Winkel.
This new project builds on material that our various youth groups have been devising since the beginning of the school year, before we went into isolation. Themes emerging from that work have provided a starting point for our discussions via Zoom.
One theme which cropped up for many of the groups was that of mental health. This week, which is recognised nationwide as Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020), the groups decided to investigate how they might use movement to explore key messages about mental health, introduced to us by partners across Coventry and Warwickshire. They also looked at how our current situation might shift the focus of some of the work that they were doing before the lockdown started.
The Belgrade Theatre is a member of the Coventry and Warwickshire Creative Health Alliance, which was created to strengthen the links between the creative and health and care sectors. There is strong evidence of the benefits of arts and creativity in promoting wellbeing, physical activity and social connections. The arts also offer powerful ways to raise awareness and challenge both the public and professionals to think differently about health and wellbeing, as well as solutions for improvement.
Hannah and I sit on the steering group for the Alliance, which brings together representatives from the creative sector, NHS organisations and local authorities to develop and oversee a programme of work to address local health and wellbeing priorities using ‘Creative Health’ approaches. By providing evidence and examples of the health benefits of creativity, these approaches can be used as tools for positive change in both clinical and community settings.
The Belgrade Theatre and our health and care partners in Coventry and Warwickshire (including the Coventry and Warwickshire Creative Health Alliance) are marking Mental Health Awareness Week by celebrating kindness, and the importance of doing our best to positively affect the wellbeing of others and ourselves during the pandemic.
This week, the Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen project explored “Five Ways to Wellbeing” – five steps that individuals and communities can take to improve mental health and build wellbeing and kindness into daily life. These are: connect, keep learning, be active, give, and take notice.
Running over nine weeks, Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen offers participants an opportunity to learn about writing, acting and directing for the small screen, culminating in the creation and performance of a piece of digital theatre.
But the project is also a great way for young people to practice these five steps and maintain their own and each other’s wellbeing. They are connecting with one another weekly, they are learning new theatre and technological skills, they are active throughout the sessions, they are giving of their brilliant ideas and their time, and they are taking notice of the changing world around them.
In these times of isolation, when we are no longer able to gather within our theatres, we are excited and proud to be going on this journey of discovery with our participants and look forward to sharing glimpses of this journey with you.