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CREATIVE EXPRESSION

Using activities that focus on creative expression is a great way to approach subjects or themes in an indirect way, allowing young people to safely talk about themselves or their own experiences through an external character or story.

THE ‘I AM’ POEMS

Aim: To enable young people to think about themselves as individuals and develop a unique identity. 

Overview:
This is an activity that will allow young people to gently start exploring their own identities, who they are, how other people perceive them and how they would describe themselves.

Instructions:

  1. Give the young people a plain piece of paper and ask them to write down their name. Now ask them to write down any other names that people know them by (this might be a surname, a nickname or a family name)
  2. Encourage them to think outside the box, to be creative, and to include words that identify them more broadly, like ‘friend’ or ‘daughter’
  3. Hand out a piece of paper to each group with the following written 10 times on the page: ’I am……………………’. Make sure the group knows that they don’t have to put their real name if they don’t want to. This sometimes helps people to open up with the security of anonymity
  4. Ask the young people to write a poem by filling in the gaps with the words they’ve listed. Encourage the group to think about rhythm, word order and what words they would want at the beginning and end
  5. Ask if any young people would like to share their poems. Consider displaying the poems as a small exhibition or using them as part of a photography project
  6. If some young people include negative words, or unpleasant words that people have used to describe them in the past, don’t discourage them but make sure you provide them with a bit of extra support If necessary, and encourage them to finish the poem on a positive word.

Taking it home…

Think creatively about how you can use the poems in the future (ask the group for ideas too!). These might include photography projects, collage, podcasts, song writing or performance. A creative way to incorporate the poems with young peoples’ identities is to use their photographs alongside the poems, or together as a collage.

A STRESSED OUT SONG

Aim: To allow young people to explore the effects of stress through creative writing.

Overview:
This activity uses a well known song as a basis to talk about stress and what it means to others. The young people will write their own lyrics and perform their own songs back to the group.

Instructions:

  1. Begin the workshop by talking about stress.
  2. Spread two sheets out across the floor and discuss a) what makes us stressed, and b) how we deal with our stress
  3. The obvious answers will occur but unpick some of the more unusual methods that people use to deal with stress
  4. Play the song ‘Stressed Out’ by ‘A tribe called Quest’ and ask the group to just listen to the song.  (here is a handy YouTube click)
  5. Ask the young people to underline the lines that they thought were interesting
  6. The first verse has a range of lines that can prompt meaningful discussion
  7. For example:
All of a sudden, I saw these two kids frontin
Talkin out they joints but they wasn’t sayin nuttin
My hand was on my toolie they was actin unruly
(Say word) Yo word up, yo I was tight caught up
But I swallowed my pride and let that nonsense ride
Because I’m positive it seems that negative dies

what do your young people think these lines are about?

 
Yo I know the feelin, when you feelin like a villain
You be havin good thoughts but the evils be revealin
and the stresses of life can take you off the right path (no doubt)
Jealousy and envy tends to infiltrate your staff
We gotta hold it down so we can move on past
all adversities, so we can get through fast, like that

In these lines the rapper offers advice. So what advice would your young people give to someone who is stressed out?

  1. Now split the young people into small groups and ask them to write down as many ideas as they can think of on how to deal with stress
  2. Once the groups have their ideas ask them to fit them or speak them over the simple downloadable beat track opposite

 

SHADOW PUPPETRY

Aim: To allow young people to create and tell their own stories in a safe space through external metaphor and imagery

Overview:

Instructions:

  1. Share the story of the Hare and the Tortoise and discuss people’s reactions to it. What is the main message in the story? Determination? Positivity? How did the story connect with people and how did it make them feel?
  2. Using this as a basis, ask your young people to write down as many well-known lessons highlighted in popular stories they know of
  3. Put the young people into small groups and ask them to choose one of the lessons they feel most strongly about
  4. Now ask the groups to create and draw 6 images that tell the story of their chosen message
  5. Break the story into a range of characters. Each member of the group can pick one of these characters and create shadow puppets to tell the story. Watch a short video here on how to make a shadow puppet
  6.  Set up a torch to face a white sheet. It works best with a projector and a white sheet
  7. Tell the story and evaluate experience following this

What we learnt
Creating space behind the white sheet is very important.
Making the shadow puppets simple is the most important aspect. It is a good idea to have a couple of examples for the group first.
Spread the challenge over two sessions in order not to rush it.
Enjoy the conversations as the making is occurring, these are important moments that can be used to unpick the actions.

RESOURCES YOU WILL NEED

 

The ‘I Am’ Poem Resources:

Flip chart paper
A handful of pens
A selection of A4 paper

 

Be positive copy

A Stressed Out Song Resources:

Flip chart paper
A handful of pens
A selection of A4 paper
Flash Cards
Click on the track download icon below for the simple beat track (Right click to download and save)

soundtrack link

Shadow Puppetry Resources:

A section of Card
Lots of Tape
Cocktail sticks of varying sizes
A selection of Paper
A handful of pens