Do you have a hobby or pastime that you really enjoy? Do you have a memory of a creative experience that has left a positive lasting impression on your life?
It’s highly likely that whoever introduced you to that hobby, past time or creative experience was a parent, grandparent or other family member. Is this always the case for our Children in Care and care experienced children and young people?
“We want loads more of this cos its good and we can say what we want to say.” Participant of the Arts Connect Rap and Write Project in Birmingham and Dudley.
“When you’re in the care system, you get quite a lot of built up emotions and don’t know how to express them properly and talk about them, but therefore when you have a Creative Mentor, you don’t have to talk about them, you can explain it through your hands” – Participant of The Mighty Creatives’ Creative Mentoring Programme (TMC are our sister Bridge organisation for the East Midlands)
There is a recognition, that each care experienced child or young person’s early experiences would most likely have been adversely affected by trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and because of this, they are less likely to have accessed arts and cultural opportunities. This access has only been exacerbated by the global Coronavirus pandemic, now also being recognised as an Adverse Childhood Experience.
“I can’t get my feelings out when I talk. This is easier, it means I can say what I’m feeling” – Participant of the Arts Connect Rap and Write Project in Birmingham and Dudley.
At this time, where there is greater awareness around the importance of good mental health, it is vital we have a more balanced and varied learning offer that ensures all our children and young people are able to be creative and use their own free time purposefully and in a way that enhances their wider experiences, raises their aspirations and empowers them to realise their own potential.
This is why we have been working with the Midlands Virtual Schools Network and The Mighty Creatives to develop My Creative Track – A Pathway to Arts and Culture for Care Experienced Young People.
What is ‘My Creative Track’?
My Creative Track is a themed framework that has been developed to help guide children and young people in care, and the adults who support them (Foster Carers, Key Workers, Social Workers, Designated Teachers, Residential Home Workers etc.), to engage with a journey of arts and cultural experiences. It covers:
- Visual Arts
- Digital Arts (e.g. Film & Animation; TV; Games Design; Photography)
Children and Young People can work across these art forms through six stages on the Creative Track, with the help of a supporting adult to help them grow and develop their interests and experiences. Each stage develops in levels, with slight progression increasing engagement, achievement and ambition.
How can children and young people use ‘My Creative Track’?
You and your child/young person can start the Creative Track journey wherever feels right to you. You do not have to start at Stage A, you might want to start nearer the middle. Take a look at the stages to make the best decision for you and your child/young person.
Each stage includes key points on the track to cover:
- Check it Out – This is where we encourage you and your child/young person to engage with the arts as an audience member, reader or viewer. Suggested activities might include visiting a library, gallery, theatre show or explore the local clubs in your area.
- Give it a Go – This is where we encourage you and your child/young person to get making and creating. Suggested activities might include acting out your favourite parts of a film, designing and writing a portfolio of work for college or creating a dress up box in your living room.
- Share and Connect (linked to arts and cultural professionals and careers). This is where we encourage children and young people to share their experiences with friends, members of their households, teachers, and in the later stages other artists and arts professionals.
- This is where we encourage you to reflect on your journey so far.
There are lots of points within the track where your child/young person can draw, write, scribble or note down any responses, discussions or ideas to get you started to.
How can I get involved?
If you are a Virtual School in the West Midlands and would like to work with us on the My Creative Track framework, please do get in touch with Pepita Hanna, our Associate Director by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a Virtual School in the East Midlands and would like to work with us on the My Creative Track framework, please do get in touch with Emily York, Youth Programme Manager at The Mighty Creatives by emailing Emily.email@example.com.
We are already using the Creative Track and would like more support. Where do we go?
If you are based in the West Midlands, why not check out our Arts and Culture Directory. You can look for organisations and artists to work with in your school or setting based on their art form, age group and proximity to your location. You can also view which organisations are Artsmark Partners, and Arts Award Centres and Supporters. You can search easily and for free.
Why not look at our free library of curated digital resources. Resources have been selected from cultural organisations across the West Midlands and nationally, crossing a wide range of art forms and for all age ranges and key stages.
You can also sign up for our enewsletter and keep up to date with all of our work and activities.
If you are based in the East Midlands please get in contact with The Mighty Creatives, our partner organisation. Check out their Mighty Connections website. This website is a simple-to-use online directory for schools to search for cultural education offers from cultural organisation. You can search easily and for free.
If you’re in the East Midlands, why not also sign up to their Mighty Hub of Creativity too? This includes free online resources selected from the very best cultural organisations across the East Midlands and wider across a range of art forms and for all age ranges.
You may want some more bespoke support for your children and young people in the East Midlands. Have you considered Creative Mentoring? Creative Mentoring is 1:1 approach to working with care experienced children in care, where they work 1:1 with an artist over a period of time to explore their social and emotional challenges from a creative distance.
If you have any further questions or enquiries about My Creative Track please do get in touch with us at Arts Connect, by emailing Pepita at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Virtual Schools that have informed and supported My Creative Track include: