Case Study: Wellbeing Project with Cardinal Newman School

Cultural Providers: Qemamu Mosaics (Dionne Ible) & Irie Vibes (Ed King).

Teacher: Steve Mitchelmore

We were excited to receive a brief from teacher, Steve Mitchelmore, at Cardinal Newman School in Luton. He wanted to put together a wellbeing project for six BAME female students in years 8 and 9, and The Culture Challenge providers, Qemamu Mosaics and Irie Vibes stepped in to deliver a series of workshops held during November 2017 – January 2018.

Students from Cardinal Newman School share their mosaics
Students from Cardinal Newman School share their mosaics

Prior to the project, Steve wrote on his The Culture Challenge application form:

“We have identified a group of BAME female students who would benefit from some additional wellbeing activity and access to a positive role model to help them gain confidence, wellbeing and self-expression. We will evaluate this Creativity for Wellbeing Nurture Group to see if there are positive outcomes for confidence and engagement and wellbeing… Mosaic art will enable the learners to achieve good results in a new art form and is relaxing and meditative to do. Dionne Ible as a Black female artist will provide a new role model for our learners. We hope the young women will see an increase in confidence and wellbeing, as well as to begin to think about their own creative careers / journeys. If we can incorporate Arts Award we believe this will also help with their confidence and sense of achievement.”

Steve scored the sessions 5/5 for overall quality, 5/5 for suitability for the group, and 5/5 for the supporting materials – a great result for The Culture Challenge! He said,

“The event was well planned with suitable resources and expert instruction and teaching. The Arts Award provided a suitable qualification however the time allocated was too short for a couple of the students who needed to be kept on task. To complete both the practical and Arts Award additional days were required.”

He went on to add,

“The activity was perfect and has given all of the girls a good start to increasing their confidence and general self esteem… Excellent support and information throughout the event. Thank you.”

A student from Cardinal Newman School creates a mosaic
A student from Cardinal Newman School creates a mosaic

We also managed to get student feedback for this Wellbeing Project, and when asked if they enjoyed the series of activities with Dionne and Ed, three of the students gave a rating of ‘quite a lot’, while the other three rated it ‘a huge amount’. We then went on to ask them what their favourite parts of the sessions were…

“My favourite part was doing the practical, like deciding what I want to do on my mosaic and choosing colours.”

“I enjoyed learning something new and also enjoyed their help and humour.”

“My favourite part was creating our designs as I was able to show my creative side.”

We went on to ask them if these sessions made them feel more confident about being creative. They replied with,

“It has because I never thought I was capable of doing art and it boosted my confidence.”

“It made me feel more confident about being creative because I didn’t really like art.”

One student wasn’t as convinced in her new-found skills, but still managed to see a positive side –

“I don’t feel totally confident, but I think it boosted my confidence a bit.”

We also asked the girls what other kinds of art and culture activity they might like to try at school. They said,

“I would like to participate in doing more mosaic art.”
“I would love to stick to mosaic.”
“A group of mosaic for each tutor group – best one wins.”

We think it’s fair to say that the mosaics were a resounding success! Finally, we asked them to describe how they felt during the workshops with Dionne and Ed. Two of the six girls said they felt ‘happy’ while the other four said they were ‘excited’. They expanded by telling us why…

“I got to work with different people in the group.”
“I enjoy it a lot.”
“Because I like doing different and new things in school.”
“I was able to create my own design.”
“It is different and fun to wake up knowing I’m doing at work instead of being in class.”

We were thrilled with the response from this group of girls. They clearly engaged well with Dionne of Qemamu Mosaics and Ed of Irie Vibes. They learned new art techniques, boosted their confidence and skills set, and came out of the workshops thinking about what other arts and culture activities they’d like to try their hands at. We hope to see them engaging with more of The Culture Challenge practitioners again soon, and hope they keep up with their artwork.