Creative Minds Year 1 – YMCA Swansea
The Creative Minds project has been a huge success for YMCA Swansea. It has allowed Youth Workers to focus on the struggles that children and young people are facing day to day. Our aim over the project has been to narrow those struggles down to the core in order to be able to support young people to gain more confidence and feel better about themselves. The Creative Minds Project gave workers the tools to help support young people in looking after their own and their peer’s mental health.
At the beginning of the project, hubs got together for the Champions Development Day to brief young people about Creative Minds. The Champions received an explanation of what it is that they are required to do. The project focuses all around the young people- encouraging them to meet others, make friends as well as having the opportunity to talk to professionals for additional support and guidance.
YMCA Swansea uses a recording studio to work with young people which can also be used for external workshops and events. During the day, young champions had the opportunity to try out other hub’s facilities and learn something new. YMCA Swansea delivered a song writing workshop using a portable pop-up music station. Young people had a go at different instruments followed by writing lyrics to the melodies they came up with whilst other hubs were delivering their own workshops around drama, DJing, live performance and discussions around mental health.
During the delivery of the project, a lot of the young people YMCA Swansea supported worked better on a one-to-one basis. This is because the majority of the young people suffer from anxiety which is why they don’t attend schools, colleges or universities. The approach that YMCA Swansea uses is slow paced which seems to work the best. Youth Workers often use motivational interviewing and active listening skills that encourages young people to explain themselves and find the words that best describe their situation. Through this, YMCA Swansea gives the champions a voice resulting in increase of confidence, self-worth and pride in themselves. Music and the arts is truly an inspiring tool someone can have to express themselves. Once young people felt more confident, they were taken to other clubs and workshops to help youth workers deliver sessions to other young people whilst still working on their individual challenges for the Youth Achievement Award Accreditation. Young people chose challenges such as; learning to play the drums/guitar/keyboard/singing, writing songs, setting up for a recording session, music technology skills, event organising and many more.
To celebrate the young champions’ success, Youth Cymru organised a Showcase Event where the hubs had the opportunity to meet up again, give feedback to each other and most importantly, celebrate their achievements and have fun. Young people once again had the opportunity to take part in workshops and to help set up for the live performances that were happening all day on the Wales Millennium Centre Glanfa Stage with young people showcasing what they have worked on all year. This was a really good day to tell the public about the project and for friends and families to get involved with the project. Over the duration of the day, young people really managed to raise awareness about mental health and its importance in our every-day life.
To complete the delivery of year one, all hubs were required to take part in a Social Action Project which involved champions planning and helping to deliver workshops or an event that reached out to the community to raise awareness and decrease the stigma around mental health. YMCA Swansea held an event called ‘Voice Your Mind’ where young people and champions got together to take part in round table discussions and activities which were based around having conversations about mental health. Whilst one group were listening to 3 chosen songs and sharing with their peers what it is that reminds them of the song or how it makes them feel, the other tables would be creating a mood board, associating objects with a positive memory, taking part in a short fitness circuit and talking about how it made them feel physically and mentally, as well as writing their very own lyrics and poems.
The ‘Voice Your Mind’ event ended with a young people’s panel discussion for feedback about the activities and a Q&A where a lot of issues were raised about future support and services young people can access for their mental health. YMCA Swansea can’t wait to enter year 2 of the Creative Minds Project, meet their new champions, and continue doing this great work.
-Blog written by Gergo Daroczi, Music and Arts Coordinator at YMCA Swansea