5 Year 8 teenagers from a Cambridgeshire school are currently working with Paula Briggs from AccessArt to create a series of animations aimed at encouraging teenagers across the country to become more aware of how they consume the digital world, and how they can take the first steps to becoming creative contributors.
The project is the result of conversations with teenagers and parents about the degree to which phone use (and in particular social media and gaming) intrudes increasingly upon life in the physical or friction-based world. With only so many hours in a day, and so much pressure on young people from school work, how can we enable our teenagers to consume the digital world more mindfully and as a consequence create time, space and inspiration to pursue more personal and creative activities?
The project (working title How to Become a Creative Producer), will be split into two parts:
Part One: A tongue-in-cheek quiz-style animation will help teenagers become more aware of their own digital consumption (both good and bad) and their habits around phone use. By the end of the short quiz they will be able to identify the traits which lead them to being consumers or producers of “stuff”.
Part Two will consist of a stop motion animation which presents teenagers with the idea that we all have the capacity to be creative, and that by becoming more mindful about how we consume the digital world, we can not only feed our individual interests but we can also carve more time and space to explore our own creativity. The animation will explore aspects of the creative process which are common to us all and yet little talked about in school; what does it feel like to put yourself on the line and be creative? How do the highs and lows of being creative feel? How can we create enough space for ideas to arrive? How can we feel safe enough to take creative risks and might we work alone or as part of a team? Finally the animation will introduce the 7 ogres which pop over our shoulder, intent on disrupting the creative process, and how we might handle them!
The task of the 5 teenagers (Rowan Briggs Smith, Alex Tunstall, Amelia Baker, Lluis Borrell and Imogen Ransome, chosen to participate in the project because of their creative interests in the physical world which include woodwork, dance, music and art), is immense. Meeting in their own time after school and at weekends, their role will be to work with Paula to distill complex ideas into a simple and engaging series of animations which other teenagers will want to watch. The 12 and 13 year olds will work collaboratively, sharing and developing their existing skills to write, draw, animate, edit, and create sound tracks for the project.
The animations will be completed in a few weeks and AccessArt hopes that they will be shared widely and used across the country and overseas as part of PSHE lessons, to promote wellbeing, and as a precursor to creative activities, both in schools and the wider community. The project also acts as a reminder to all those teenagers out there who are already investing in their own creativity that they are doing the right thing, that they are to be celebrated, and that we appreciate their endeavours!
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Paula Briggs is co-founder and co-director of UK charity AccessArt, and is also author of Drawing Projects for Children and Make, Build, Create, published by Black Dog Publishing.