Using the arts to build intergenerational connections
There is a reason we do intergenerational arts projects, not just intergenerational projects. As well as creative activities having proven health and wellbeing benefits for all ages, they can be used as a vehicle for connection. By doing creative activities together, we can safely explore our similarities and differences.
Evidence gathered from Quality Street demonstrated that making artworks together, gave older and younger people a joint focus and experience which led to stronger feelings of connection.
A core group of 46 pupils took part in projects regularly over the two years. Of these, 44 completed an end of project survey:
- 48% spoke about feeling ‘connected’ to their community or cited their relationship with the older people as significant to them.
- Some cited the messages from the older people as their favourite part of the project, others spoke about ‘missing’ the older people.
Magic Me is different to my other lessons because it makes me feel connected to everyone and we get to meet new people.
Creativity and wellbeing
We interviewed some of our older participants after the final project in December 2020 and those we spoke to reported feeling more connected to their community and the outside world as a result of taking part in creative projects, leading to an increased sense of wellbeing. Some of those we interviewed had not had a visitor except a carer or left their flat except for medical appointments since February 2020. Older participants cited company, communication and creativity as important aspects in maintaining their wellbeing throughout this year.
Being able to talk to people has picked me up and kept me connected to the community
She so enjoys the Magic Me projects. With social activities and contacts so restricted these days it hugely helps her sense of well-being that you guys are in touch with her and doing creative stuff together.
Family member of older participant
I never thought I had the confidence to do something like that
Younger participants also spoke about an increased sense of wellbeing, particularly around ‘feelings of pride’ as they saw their artworks come together to be showcased to family and friends.
When your picture is up you feel proud of your work..
It is nice when someone shows your artwork.
Removing barriers to creativity
WE BLOOM 2020 replaced the annual street festival and focused on the idea of gift giving and co-creation of a pop-up garden display.
Approximately 26% of Waltham Forest residents do not speak English as their first language. 54% of families at George Mitchell (165 of 307) speak an additional language to English – for many this would be their primary spoken language. WE BLOOM aimed to reach as many families as possible across the school via post and online learning platforms. To remove additional barriers to participation we had information translated into 3 additional languages and video tutorials for creative activities were produced alongside written instructions.
We believe this helped with engagement and we had a brilliant response to the project with 52 children contributing artworks to the garden display and 66 people, including families from the school and local area, attending the socially distanced event across the day.
A huge thank you to our artists
Quality Street was an artist led project and we’d like to thank all the artists who made it happen:
Year 1: Ben Connors, Surya Turner, Sam Alexander, Polly Beestone, Chuck Blue Lowry, Mia Harris, Kathy Horak-Hallett
Year 2: Polly Beestone, Kathy HorakHallett, Ben Connors, Grace White, Jo Scholar, Irene Pulga
And to our key partners:
Notting Hill Genesis, George Mitchell School, Leyton Orient Walking Football Club
And not least our funder:
If you would like more people to benefit from creative intergenerational arts projects please donate here.