Skills for life

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Supported by: Berkeley Insurance Group

Description

“Laughter is better than sticks” Author & cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems notes that, “Humour is a great way for us to have evolved so we don’t have to hit each other with sticks!”

At Big Difference Company we don’t hit each other with sticks but, instead, we acknowledge and promote the benefits of humour and laughter in all sorts of settings. Loving Laughing and Laugh Term are two complimentary pioneering comedy projects with children and young people across Leicestershire.

Loving Laughing works with Primary Schools bringing together professional comedians to work with schools to mentor and train children in joke telling and the creative process that underpins it. The children will write their own jokes on subjects they select and then go on to have “gag battles” with partner schools. Three final schools will then take part in the finale, telling their jokes to an audience of children, school staff and family members.

Laugh Term is our young people’s comedy workshop; a dedicated half-term programme for teenagers aspiring to develop their skills and experience of performing live comedy. Supported by professional comedians and workshop leaders, young people will meet together every day of half-term to learn the basics of comedy performance & develop their very own comedy set. This will culminate with a performance on the Friday evening. We are particularly keen to develop our work to reflect the diversity of Leicestershire and are already in conversation with Leicester City Council about engaging vulnerable or looked after children.

Have piloted both these projects over the last two years, our evidence shows that engaging in comedy and humour projects can make a significant impact on children and young people. Laughter, and the creative process of making the comedy that generates it, has been proven to have a positive impact on a child’s Mental health and well-being and Educational attainment and general success at school

It can help improve their language skills, self-esteem, confidence, presentation skills and trust. It also gives children and young people a voice and a platform to explore their identity and express themselves. These are all skills which are critical to the development of children and young people.

“Laughter’s ability to diffuse stress is just one of the many reasons why it’s a critical part of a child’s development”. (Emily Perlman Abedon – Parents Magazine)

Our work with schools was acknowledged within a recent Ofsted report as being of great value to the educational attainment and wellbeing of children within one particular school. The overall assessment of the school rose from ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent’ due, in part, to the collaboration with Big Difference Company. This is clear evidence that the relationship between humour/comedy, and the work children do to write the material, has a significant value that endures beyond the life of the project itself. We want to do more of this; work with more schools, more children and broaden the grin more widely across the city and county.

We’ll also work with the schools and other professionals in children’s services to evaluate the impact of the projects on the children & young people involved, and ensure that data be available to others to use and inform practice. We have produced community projects over the last 26 years and are increasingly confident about the impact our work has. We know everyone laughs at something and our job is to broaden the grin across as many communities as possible.

When comedy is performed appropriately it can help break down barriers, unite communities and help start conversations amongst diverse people. This is especially true when working with children and young people. We also know laughter can improve the wellbeing of communities and this funding will allow us to extend our work with younger age groups who sometimes struggle to engage with traditional art or cultural activities.

Big Difference Company

We are a unique charity use comedy and humour to develop communities’ health & wellbeing, as well as delivering the longest running comedy festival in Europe. Building on the previous success, we hope to develop this further to engage with schools throughout the year, and deliver high quality works

Location: Leicester