Theater project helps boost confidence and friendships for young carers

A project between Pace young people’s theater and Renfrewshire young carers has shown the power of the arts.

The partnership began in spring last year and came about to tackle the social isolation and lack of support faced by many young carers on a daily basis, and particularly during the past 18 months under Covid-19 restrictions.

Over the past ten months, the young people have taken part in a series of creative workshops covering a variety of specialisms, including songwriting, filmmaking, stage combat and dance.

And the project has now been nominated for a Youth Link Scotland National Youth Work Award for Arts and Creativity, the results of which will be announced at a ceremony later this year.

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Jenni Mason, artistic director at PACE Theater Company said: “We believe that drama and arts activities have a unique role to play in addressing the emotional well-being and mental health of young people.

“This project emerged in direct response to the requirements of the Renfrewshire Young Carers group, who identified a need for arts provision in their local community, and throughout we have seen a perfect example of the power of the arts and what it can do for young people. .

“Participants have blossomed in confidence, developed strong friendships and been able to express themselves in a meaningful and positive way, which is more crucial than ever in these challenging and unfamiliar times.”

The young carers benefitted from the project

The project was documented through the creation of two films, one about their experiences as carers and one recording the project, which were shared at an event for family and friends last week.

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Throughout the project, young people have been given the opportunity to co-design the workshop programme, explore new creative skills and supported to share their experiences and explore impactful ways of communicating their stories.

The group of young people involved were encouraged to lead on the direction of the project, allowing them to develop collaboration and leadership skills.

A core group of regular attendees ranging in age from eight to 17 took part and formed strong peer bonds with older participants supporting the younger ones.

As well as working on the short films, there has been a much-needed social element to the project with a Halloween party and pizza and movie night.

Project leaders said they’ve seen each individual young person find a new skill, a new passion and a new form of self-expression.

Jenni added: “We’ve had young people discover a love of singing, of dancing, filmmaking, drawing, and of several other skills they’ve explored during the project.

“As well as this, all of the young people have developed close relationships with each other, and the project has fostered friendships that will be long term and beneficial to the mental well-being of each young person for the rest of their lives.

“We believe it is important to create meaningful pathways for the participants to continue their creative journey, so they were all offered bursary places to take part in PACE’s summer festival programme, to allow them to connect with PACE’s core youth theater work and meet new people .

“Several of the participants had increased in confidence enough to accept those places and successfully participated in week-long workshops alongside participants from our core youth theatre.”

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The project was supported by Creative Scotland’s Youth Arts Access Fund.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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