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Wellbeing and the Museum: Youth Theatre at the Horniman

Our Community Engagement team work with a variety of local groups to help them get the most our of our collections. Here, Rachel gives us a look at a project started this year with Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre.

Here at the Horniman, the Learning Team frequently see the positive effects engaging with the museum can have on people’s wellbeing. Our collections and programmes provide great opportunities for people to connect with others, to learn and be inspired and to have time to reflect on the beauty and complexity of the world we live in.

Last year, we met with Jeremy and Emily from GLYPT and they told us about their brilliant project ‘Whatever Makes you Happy’. This project seeks to increase good mental health and wellbeing in young people. We formed a partnership with GLYPT with the aim to work together on this and use the museum resources in a way that would greatly add to the ‘Whatever’ programme.

Together we now run a weekly drama class for 11-14 year olds where the participants have after-hours access to the museum and can use the galleries and handling collection to inspire their work.

Last term ended with a truly brilliant promenade piece performed for parents, carers and friends and we look forward to a great Summer Term ahead.

The Horniman also supports participants in its Youth Programme to take part in GLYPT as Peer Mentors. Here Heidi tells us more about what the role involves:

I have been helping teach drama to kids aged 11- 14. The session starts off with safe space where we do something creative, this helps them focus. After this, we start doing the drama. The kids used the museum’s objects to create characters for their play. We wanted them to explore their own characters and scenarios as much as possible.

I’m a Peer Mentor. I join in all of the activities with the kids, and I’m a role model to them. It’s nice to have younger people as well as the adults in the group, some kids find it easier to relate.

I was doing a Youth Work Placement at the museum and my supervisor Beth told me about it so I got involved. I am very interested in theatre, so it was great to be around people who were too.

We let the kids be themselves. It was wonderful to see them change every week, they have all grown more confident.

The final event was great, everyone got up and said their lines. Some of them were so shy when they first started - so this was really amazing!