Eighteen months ago, a chance conversation started a chain of events which lead to Inkpots developing its own creative space at our local secondary school, the Burgess Hill Academy. Six months ago, enough work had happened on the room to provide us with a blank canvas and the really magical work could begin. We were able to turn an old IT suite into a calm, secure area where there is enough room for students to spread out, relax and be as creative as they wish. It’s been a real team effort with support from parents who donated items and gave their time to work on the room, and local businesses and organisations too. Of course, non of this would have happened in the first place without the Principal of the academy having a vision about creativity himself and valuing everything such a project can bring.
I always knew that a creative space would be great for the students. But I didn’t realise just how great.
The room isn’t quite finished (it might never be fully ‘complete’!) but the changes in our students has been quite remarkable. I can see them all flourishing and developing their creative skills all the time.
- They get to make some of the major decisions about the way we use the room;
- It’s a place where the clear boundaries about how we all behave and treat each other have been suggested and implemented by the students;
- There are no restrictions on the creative ideas which can be considered.
Because Inkpots provides creative activities which support wellbeing, we’ve had a number of discussions too about how their creative interests can help with stress and anxiety.
We know that teenagers (those age 10 – 16 years for our purposes) across the UK are struggling with higher levels of mental illness than in previous years. Our students are no different, with a number of areas such as exam pressures, friendship fallouts and low self-esteem causing particular concern. But they all say that having the Inkpots space helps them so much.
This has also led us to think about how creative spaces can be developed and used in different situations.
We have started to talk to other organisations to find out what the landscape is like – at the moment, it seems as if ours is a unique project so we would like to connect with as many people as possible to spread the word.
But we’ve also been thinking about space in our homes too. And clearing space in our minds too. This latter point is important for everyone. We all – including young people – have such busy lives and creative practices can seem an indulgence. But we’ve been talking about spending just ten minutes a day on something creative to build a good habit.
More ideas have been summarised in a free downloadable PDF which is available HERE.
If you are developing (or thinking about doing so) a creative space or have ideas on other spaces, we would love to hear from you. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org