Raising awareness of mental health through Gold Arts Award
BY: Guest Writer
24 Jun 2019
We hear from adviser and freelance Arts and Music Educator, Kathrina Perry, about a successful Gold Arts Award project that focused on raising awareness of mental health through poetry.
My journey as an Arts Award Adviser
I was introduced to Arts Award by my line manager in 2010, when working at a further education college. The Arts and Media faculty were considering an extra qualification to deliver across a large intake and Arts Award was a perfect fit because it meant that the students could work on individual projects alongside their BTEC qualifications. Since starting my partnership with Arts Award I’ve been working with local Arts Education Officers and schools to share good practice and showcase young people’s work. I am trained across all five levels of the qualification, although the majority of my delivery focuses on Bronze, Silver and particularly Gold.
I first began delivering Arts Award by working with large groups in an educational setting. At that time, I concentrated on ensuring deadlines were set for the class to keep young people on track, however, becoming freelance allows me to empower young people to embrace the award and take ownership of their work. Supporting young people to achieve Gold Arts Award means that I can operate in more of an advisory capacity rather than a structured role. For example, I may still assist when it comes to finding organisations to visit (particularly those which are Arts Award Supporters). This approach gives young people pride over their projects and helps to keep them motivated.
One of my most recent Gold achievers, Danielle Gare, focused her project on Mental Health awareness. For her Unit 1, Part A, she chose to work with a number of different artists to publish a poetry book. She worked with photographers and publishers whilst writing poetry and creating art work for the book herself. She self-published the book and since then has been selling copies on eBay. Her book titled, To Mania and Back, aims to get people talking about their feelings in ways they feel comfortable, hers being through her poetry. She also focused on mental health awareness for her Unit 2 project by holding an open mic evening where she asked performers to reference mental health. It was great to see that as an adviser, I did not influence the theme of these projects. Both initiatives were something that were of interest to the young person and she worked to develop these further.
My main tips for delivery are:
1. When working with large groups, try to keep focused on deadlines. It is very easy to lose track of who is at what stage.
2. When working with individuals, make sure lines of communication are open. You never know when they will need a bit of support or advice.
A flexible approach
Danielle’s project has opened my eyes to the possibilities that can come from Arts Award. She was determined that her project would result in her having a physical book and she worked hard to find out how to get it published and achieve this. The unprescribed nature of Arts Award allows young people to take on projects such as this and this is what makes the qualification stand out from other more traditional methods of education.
“I’m so pleased with what I’ve achieved, and I know I’ve done way more than I needed to but what I was doing became its own thing and I forgot I was getting an award at the end. Being creative is so important and refreshes me in all areas of my life” – Danielle Gare
You can find out more about Kathrina Perrys’ work at https://kathrinaperry.wixsite.com/claretclefmusicarts