Committee Reflections Blog; Youth Skills & Development
Two of Kingston Hub’s student leaders have come together to share some of their thoughts on Youth Skills & Development, framed around the contemporary community need, their own experiences and motivations, and the work that they are leading on behalf of Student Hubs. Read on to hear Ellie Turley’s and Roxcika Peris reflections.
I want to share how joining the student committee has impacted my life.
My name is Roxcika, third-year Business Management student and I joined the committee during the pandemic. You will all agree that the year 2020 has been a terrible year, right? As I’ve been spending most of the time at home, I have been grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this community remotely.
I have met many like-minded students, who are similar to me, who go through similar problems. We are a team who would like to support each other and share skills and knowledge with one another. We have weekly committee meetings where we can catch up to discuss what’s happened during the week personally and within the Hub, future plans and any support needed. It’s a place where your voice gets heard!
I must admit I am an introvert. At the beginning, I probably hardly ever spoke but now that I know the team, I am not afraid to say anything! This has had a huge impact on me, and I have learnt that once I get to know my team, my communication skills improve rapidly. But it doesn’t stop there, there’s an opportunity to develop many skills, just let the staff team know and they will assist you with improving your presentation, social media and leadership skills as well as provide career insights and employability advice.
COVID has impacted many people in many aspects. Young people have also been affected through education, having more time but not knowing what to do. One of the programs I am working on is Link Youth. We are partnered with a few youth community partners across the country to organize fun, interactive activities for young people to participate in. Due to COVID, this program is set to run in 2021 remotely — nothing is stopping us from growing!
Following on from Roxcika’s blog post, my name is Ellie, and I am also involved in Link Youth as the programme coordinator. I am a second-year Fine Art student at KSA and like Roxcika, I also joined the committee this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was also involved with Kingston Hub last year as a volunteer on the Empower programme, where we ran mentoring sessions at a local youth club.
This academic year, the Link Youth team have been completely redesigning the programme to make it more creative, engaging, and accessible to young people online (a requirement due to the pandemic). Our goal is to empower and engage young people, aged 12–16, who are at risk of disengagement. The programme is made up of a variety of creative workshops to encourage young people to express themselves, learn new skills and get inspired during these uncertain and isolating times. These creative workshops include: T-shirt designing, song-writing, creating a podcast and building a ‘brand’. As an artist myself, I think that it is important to champion the arts via programmes like this. In this blog post I will be discussing briefly why the arts are so beneficial to young people, especially at this time.
Firstly, creative activities give young people an escape and a chance to think outside of the box — I think we can all agree that this is needed during this stressful climate. In recent years, the funding for the arts in education has been on a gradual decline which has resulted in Art subjects in school being underequipped and considered ‘lesser’ subjects when compared to core classes like Maths and Science. I think that this is really damaging for young people because although factual subjects like Maths and Science are important, they do not necessarily give students the opportunity to express their feelings and individuality.
Furthermore, during this pandemic the government has been encouraging people who have careers in the arts to ‘skill up’ and try out new roles like working in ‘cyber’. This is absurd to me purely because we have been relying so much on the arts to get us through the lockdowns! We have all been watching Netflix, reading books, listening to music, and going online — all of which would not be possible without the directors, actors, authors, musicians, graphic designers, and artists who helped to create these resources and entertainments. The way that our government has discounted the arts in this way may cause young people to believe that learning creative skills is unimportant — which is not the case. We need artists and creatives in our society to reflect the times and enrich our culture.
A world without design would be so boring!
I believe that for young people, the greatest benefit of the arts is its positive impact on mental health.
Younger generations today have so many pressures not just in education but also social expectations. Perhaps it is for this reason that anxiety and depression is becoming more common for this age group.
As somebody who struggled with anxiety during their school years and still does, I find that putting my mind to creative projects has been one of the best coping mechanisms for me because there is no “right answer” in the art world.
It is a place where the weird and wonderful are celebrated and experimentation is encouraged. You can use creative processes like song writing and drawing to process and express emotions in a healthy way — a skill which I think is so valuable to young people today. Art teaches us to embrace the way we feel and use this to create. Young people can channel their emotions into artwork and in doing this, pick up new skills and feel empowered. These creative skills are not only important for those considering a career pathway in the arts industry either; art skills are totally transferable and include things like problem solving and innovative thinking, which are useful for any profession or lifestyle.
So, these are a few of the reasons why I feel so passionate about championing the arts and teaching young people creative skills. I wish that when I was growing up the arts were celebrated more in school because they are so valuable to young people who are still developing and learning about themselves. This is the reason why I am so excited to launch our Link Youth online workshops in 2021 and I am so glad that we have the opportunity at Student Hubs to run programmes like this.
It is more important than ever during this global pandemic to reach out to young people to teach them new skills for the future, develop a sense of community and get them thinking creatively. In doing this, we believe that we can reduce their feelings of isolation, encourage them to think outside of the box and uncover some creative genius!