YOUNG people throughout the region have been collaborating with artists in a project to improve their mental health and wellbeing, with fantastic results reported for another year.

Arts Lab, a creative wellbeing programme for ten to 16-year-olds in Cornwall, delivered experiences in youth settings from February to August 2022 and March to August 2023 with the impact report now published and highlighting significant achievements.

More than 1700 children from mainstream schools, SEND schools, youth clubs, alternative provision and youth centres have taken part in 417 workshops and 30 community events (plus the digital engagement of over 15,000).

Falmouth Packet: Children taking part in one of the projects Children taking part in one of the projects (Image: Arts Lab Year 2 Artists)Some of these workshops included bio-sonification of sound, construction skills, animation, foraging, dance & complex sequencing, parkour, interactive installations, zine-making, pod-casting, magical boxes of health and happiness…and more – including a song created as an anthem for Cornwall Air Ambulance with all income from streams and downloads donated to the charity

Delivered in partnership between Arts Well and FEAST (part of Creative Kernow), with funding from HeadStart Kernow and The Cornwall Council Wellbeing and Public Health Service, more than £150,000 has been invested to commission 115 local artists, delivering 63 projects, with 248 teachers and/or youth workers supported in helping to deliver these projects.

Using creativity to nurture emotional health, collaboration and openness to the world and each other, the response from young people has been overwhelmingly positive.

Falmouth Packet: One child took part in wall painting activity One child took part in wall painting activity (Image: Arts Lab Year 2 Artists)Many young people felt a sense of belonging, pride and connection through taking part, with feedback from the young people involved including:

“The project makes me feel part of something… part of a vibrant community. I was able to share this moment before we left for secondary school and I will cherish this moment with my friends. The new mural we have created makes people happy and excited to come here to the youth club. It made me feel proud of myself.”

Izzy Bianchini, project manager for Arts Lab said: “Arts Lab is a celebration of the young people we have in Cornwall.

"In year 1 we focussed on the need for connection, expression and enhanced well-being through creative exploration; building on its successes and challenges, the Arts Lab programme has continued to grow in year 2, demonstrating the continued need for creative well-being projects for young people who are experiencing many forms of challenges that are affecting their mental and emotional wellbeing.

"Year 2 has highlighted the power of the arts as a tool for ALL young people to regulate, articulate and cooperate, regardless of their identities and experiences.”

Falmouth Packet: Masks were also created by the children Masks were also created by the children (Image: Arts Lab Year 2 Artists)Following such a positive evaluation, Arts Lab has now secured further funding from The Cornwall Council Wellbeing and Public Health Service until July 2025

Rachel Wigglesworth, director of Public Health for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, said: “The Arts Lab project has been a positive and creative way to improve mental well-being reaching hundreds of young people across our communities.

"In partnership with the NHS, we are able to continue to fund this for a further two years. It has been a tough few years for children and young people who need as much support as possible to both protect and boost their emotional well-being. Creativity is an excellent way to achieve this.”