An Insight into A Wellbeing Class

 

An Insight Into A Wellbeing Class

As a new volunteer for the Painted Fabrics Project, I had a particularly impactful first class. I helped out with a group that are nearly at the end of the first year of The Story of Painted Fabrics Project exploring the story of Annie Binden Carter’s work with disabled World War veterans. The session was specifically focused on producing an online blog to document their experiences and feelings throughout the course; they are also currently working on creating props for the play recounting the story of Anne Binden Carter’s work, which is being devised by the participants in the Drama group running alongside the group I am supporting.

Typically, for the project this class focuses on completing artistic tasks such as textiles and printing. There was an enthusiastic atmosphere and students felt comfortable contributing ideas whilst others preferred to take a backseat and continue with their own art work.
As this is a judgement-free classroom everyone felt confident to ask questions during discussions; since everyone willingly helps one another, this creates a really collaborative environment. This is one of the main appeals of attending the class, people sense the freedom to be themselves which provides respite from external and internal stresses. Having The Story of Painted Fabrics Ltd as the focus of the project is both inspiring and empowering, making it a fantastic subject to explore as well as emboldening each individual. As the project started in September, the students have really settled and formed close friendships creating a real sense of belonging and community, all of which are essential for wellbeing.
The group’s participants have different needs and abilities; it is remarkable to see their growing confidence and sociability. Some explained their personal journeys to me (particularly over the past several months) and seeing their artistic outcomes it was both utterly inspiring and wonderfully touching. There was a palpable warmth in the classroom and incredible openness creating a really supportive atmosphere.
The class itself was not a typical class where a teacher will dictate the class objectives. It was much more of a relaxed and collaborative environment. Everybody helps everybody. The Art and Wellbeing co-ordinator, Ali, provides both technical and emotional support to the students as well as encouraging them to make their own creative decisions. She has a tangible personal bond with each student.
This is truly a wellbeing class, as it provides a safe learning environment, allowing people the space to develop their artistic ability and their skills of collaboration, creativity and problem solving. These are important in building self- esteem and improving overall wellbeing, for which the benefits filter into all areas of their lives. The textile and printing focus allows them to explore and develop their own artistic voices and identities. I feel so privileged to be able to volunteer as part of the team and work with such motivated and inspiring people from all walks of life. I very much look forward to future classes.

Images: Laura Page Photography (with Ignite Imaginations)