13 February 2016

First NOW Festival a huge success

More than a hundred children and young people from local schools delivered a range of dramatic performances at the Epstein Theatre this week.

Pics by Dave Brownlee Photography

Photo by Dave Brownlee www.davebrownlee.com

Kath Thompson and pupils from New Park Primary School. Photo by Dave Brownlee www.davebrownlee.com

The NOW Festival, which took place during National Children and Young Peoples Mental Health Week– 8-14th February 2016, gave local children and young people, aged 9-18, the opportunity to showcase their original creative performances devised around the subject of Mental Health and Technology Friend or Foe?’

Over the past months, Merseyside Youth Association have been working with a number of schools; The Belvedere Academy, Studio School, New Park Primary, The Polish School, St. Francis of Assisi, Broadsquare Primary School, West Derby Primary School, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School along with Liverpool Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) commissioned services Barnardos and ADDvanced Solutions. By providing them with specialist support such as writers, performers and artists including Maurice Bessman, Darren Suarez, Paul Furlong and Carl Cockram, the children devised a series of productions that covered the theme.

Jamie Boyd, one of Barnardo’s young carers, said: “We didn’t all know each other before we
 began our film, and with a helping hand from Cheryl and Luke at Ariel Trust, we learned how to encourage each other and work as a team.

The programme, which has been funded by the NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), culminated in a celebration of creativity on Wednesday and Thursday (10th & 11th Feb) when the children performed their productions at The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool.“This project gave us time to focus on ourselves and make new friendships, and in a few hours each week, we learned new skills, chose our film style, developed our sketches, took turns at being technical and created our film.

Jamie continues: “Many people talk about the downside of technology but we didn’t want to focus on that; we’re positive young people, and we wanted to be light hearted.

“Technology isn’t good or bad; it depends how we use it.”

Photo by Dave Brownlee www.davebrownlee.com

Photo by Dave Brownlee www.davebrownlee.com

Dr Simon Bowers NHS Liverpool CCG, Clinical Vice Chair said: “Projects like the NOW festival are important as they help raise awareness of some of the pressures affecting young people’s mental health and can inspire others to ask for help. The continuing partnership between schools, voluntary groups and health providers means that mental health conditions can be addressed earlier, and families are supported as young people enter adulthood.”

Artistic director for the festival and mental health promotion worker at Merseyside Youth Association, Kath Thompson added: “I have been amazed at the enthusiasm, ideas and creativity on display from participating groups.

“It’s been great to see these children and young people engaging in discussions around mental health, and The Festival, which is part of Children’s Mental Health Week, brought together a series of imaginative performances that absolutely captivated the audiences. We’re now looking to make it an annual event.”

Photo by Dave Brownlee www.davebrownlee.com