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The HeArt of Silkstone will be a dynamic specialist hub that will enhance the mental health/wellbeing of children and young people through creative arts participation.
The HeArt project puts Health through Arts practice at the centre of our community, drawing on research and expertise across mental health provision, creative participatory practice and outdoor therapies. This HeArt project is extremely ambitious and will see the development of a bespoke physical space and outdoor area created to deliver music and creative arts workshops designed to enhance mental health across generations. The project will strengthen the Silkstone community, improve the environment and enable people to live well for longer.
This eco pod is is the type of physical space that will be the hub of the HeArt project
This is the location of the proposed HeArt of Silkstone hub
The HeArt of Silkstone project is a not only a new initiative for our local community, but is a new and innovative approach to the mental health and wellbeing of children in general and we hope that this project will become a beacon of good practice across the community sector.
Mental ill health is one of the biggest challenges society faces in the UK, affecting all ages and crossing the social spectrum. It accounts for more than 20 percent of the total disease burden in the UK – exceeding cancer and cardiovascular disease – and is the leading reason for people taking time off work. In July 2017 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing published the report Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing. The report stated that the creative impulse is fundamental to the experience of being human and that the act of creation provides an individual experience that can have positive effects on our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges - an estimated 850,000 children and young people in Britain have mental health problems and related physical health problems. One of the factors influencing the mental health of children and young people is the mental health of the adults around them. For adults of working-age, the main cause of sickness absence from work is anxiety, depression and stress, and mental health problems in the under 65s account for almost half of NHS diagnosis. For our older residents, isolation and disenfranchisement can also lead to mental health challenges. However, arts participation has been proven to help to overcome anxiety, depression and stress in parents and their children, encouraging bonding and emotional expression
HeArt places mental health and wellbeing at the centre of the community, through a creative arts hub for young people and their community. This facility that is much needed as the local area has a significant lack of mental health support services and a higher than national average record of depression and anxiety. The project will improve the mental health services offered in the area particularly to children and young people, focussing much more on prevention and early intervention to improve their emotional health and well being.
One of the new approaches of the HeArt project is that it champions an inter-generational approach, enabling children to work creatively side-by-side with their parents, grandparents and other adults from their community to enhance mental wellbeing. Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing found that engaging with the arts has a significant part to play in improving physical and mental health and wellbeing, helping to overcome anxiety, depression and stress in young people, and that “access to the arts and culture helps us to live well in our communities” (p68).
The local primary school are in full support of the HeArt initiative and have offered a piece of land for the physical building, adjacent to their outdoor wellbeing area. Over the past year, the school have worked hard to initiate a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing which has become a driver for school improvement and resulted in the school being a finalist for School of the Year in the Pride of Barnsley Awards 2019 https://www.barnsleychronicle.com/article/transformation-of-wasteland-a-real-benefit-to-mental-well-being.
The Wellbeing Ambassadors with the Worry Monsters
The school transformed an unused area of wasteland into an outdoor learning area, which provided a restful space for children at playtime as well as a more reflective social space, and constructed raised beds that are being used to grow produce that will be donated to the local foodbank.
The Wasteland Before
The Completed Outdoor Learning and Wellbeing Space
As well as helping to enhance children’s wellbeing with the garden, the school also has ‘worry monsters’ in every class. Worry monsters are stuffed creatures with zips across their mouths. If any children have worries, they are asked to write them down and pop them in the monster’s mouths, giving them the freedom to talk about things that are concerning them. In addition, the school has introduced mental health ambassadors and has circle time in each classroom to open up the conversation about mental health. Through the HeArt initiative, we can support the primary school to extend their mental health and wellbeing focus, to include creative practice and wider intergenerational community involvement.
This innovative initiative relies on 3 key elements - people, process and place.
We already have the people: the children and young people and the community within which they live. We have overwhelming support from the local community including the education providers, community groups and local families.
We already have the process: numerous people have come forward to offer their time and expertise in running and delivering the project - ranging from experts in young people’s mental health to community arts practitioners across music and the visual who have offered to run workshops and train others to ensure sustainability of the project.
We are asking for funding to put in place the other key element, without which the project cannot run - the place. The local primary school has committed a piece of land to the project. The school are keen to support the project, but as the second lowest-funded school in the Barnsley borough, they do not have available funds to contribute to the project financially and so have contributed in-kind.
The eco-building that we are fundraising for, and the related development of the outdoor wellbeing space, is central to the success of this project. Natural and built environments have a profound impact upon our health and wellbeing - the Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing report found that access to daylight, fresh air and natural materials aids healing, restoring the integrity between mind, body and soul. The HeArt project uniquely combines the natural and built environment to deliver its potential. In 2019 we were fortunate to be awarded £500 from Aviva to develop an outdoor learning and wellbeing area at the local primary school. Through adding to this with PTA funding we were able to create a much-needed space for children to benefit from interactions with nature.
The new building provision for HeArt requested through this fund, will be situated within this amazing outdoor area and will be designed for open access to the outdoor space within which it sits. Having a useable building that we can open up into the natural space will only add to the wellbeing and mental health of the children, enriching their education and experience. The document Nature and Mental Health published by Mind in 2018 identified how nature can benefit mental health, stating that spending time in green space or bringing nature into everyday life can benefit both mental and physical wellbeing, helping with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Research into ecotherapy (a type of treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression, proposing that his might be due to combining social contact with being outside in nature. Suggested activities included taking part in creative activities outdoors, or bringing the outdoors in for creative stimuli, including songwriting, poetry, painting and drawing or making art in or with nature - creating art in green space or using the environment as inspiration. Ecotherapy involves doing structured outdoor activities in nature involving focussing on doing an activity, rather than on your health, that takes place in a green environment and that involves spending time with other people - all activities that characterise the activities that will take place at HeArt.
We are asking you to help to fund an eco-building that will be the hub of the HeArt project, where these creative participatory workshops can take place.
Our new vision for HeArt is exciting:
School Hours - the HeArt space will be used in the day time by local preschool businesses to run music and creative arts sessions with their children and families, by local peripatetic music teachers and by the local primary school who will be able to use the facility for creative PHSE sessions and music activities.
Teatime - the space will be used for children’s creative arts clubs.
Evenings - the space will be used for youth and adult-facing sessions such as choirs and instrumental groups.
Weekends - we will run inter-generational activities, where children and young people and their parents, grandparents and wider community can come together to work on collaborative creative projects that will see the community working creatively together.
HeArt will be run by a steering group of stakeholders, including mental health specialists, community arts practitioners, young people and members of the wider community, driving the development of this specialist hub that we hope will become a beacon of best practice across mental health provision, creative participatory practice and outdoor therapies.
Silkstone PTA charity has been established for over 40 years. We are a group of parents and teachers that are dedicated to increasing the wellbeing of the children and young people within our community, through increased inter-generational community engagement. We have achieved so much over the years and we now want to step it up a gear and do something amazing that the whole community to benefit from!