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Urban Heard: Youth Engagement Specialist CIC is an organisation that specialises in using peer-led communication for behaviour change, as well as using the arts to support young people to deal with their emotions and feelings. Although the West Midlands based organisation is 7 years old it is a relatively new Art Awards provider. After a successful summer in 2019, where we worked closely with Solihull Youth Offenders Service to use the Arts Award programme to engage young people in positive activities. We were gearing up to launch our social action through the arts programme for 2020, when the pandemic hit.

To our absolute delight an organisation called CORE Education Trust decided they were going to go above and beyond for the year 6 children about to start in their secondary schools in Birmingham, by commissioning a full summer programme, for free, which allowed the children to not only get familiar with the school they were starting in September but also get back into a routine of getting out of the house, as many had been off for near to 5 months. This initiative involved using sports and the arts for 4 weeks throughout the summer with Aspire Sports providing the sports programmes and Urban Heard providing the arts based services.

Urban Heard provided 2 workshops simultaneously with one exploring spoken word / beats and the other working towards a Discover Arts Award through stop motion. We allowed the young people to explore their feelings about transitioning from Primary to Secondary School, as well as their thoughts about lockdown and covid-19, so these two workshops were perfect platforms for them to do this.

To achieve the arts award the young people researched Aardman Animations, watched a film and compiled a short presentation sharing what they had learnt to the group. Then in the afternoon they were taught how to use the Stop Motion App and put into groups to devise a film about starting year 7. We provided Plasticine, dolls, Lego, art supplies and a Sylvanian Family school set to entice the children to be creative and as expressive as possible, to which they did not disappoint. Our very charismatic youth workers supported the children in their story development and the children created fantastic short films, which were then showcased to their class. Throughout the sessions the children were able to share their worries and their concerns, to which the others in the class would share their solutions and ways to support one another. This type of peer-support is something Urban Heard is passionate about and it was fantastic to allow this to happen, whilst the young people could have a meaningful experience and fun. Through CORE Education Trust giving this opportunity to their future students, we were able to start over 200 children on their arts award journey.

Find out more about the services Urban Heard provide here or follow Urban Heard on Instagram.

Find out more about Aspire Sports here.

Find out more about CORE Education Trust here.

Charly Slater, C.E.O. Urban Heard: Youth Engagement Specialist CIC