Our Youth Tribe, and the wider youth community in our area, are at our heart. We recognise the importance of the earliest possible interventions, and that the landscape for future generations is like nothing we could ever imagine, let alone relate to.
From the pressure of surviving a school environment that doesn't work for you, to the constant social expectations that young people are bombarded with 24/7 via technology - it's no wonder there is a steadily increasing number of children and young people with diagnosed mental health conditions, and thousands more that sit on long waiting lists, or worse still, never share their struggles with anyone.
We asked our young people about the issues that affect them the most, and the things that they would like to see in place to help and support them through these difficult times.
Subjects such as neurodivergence and super long waiting lists for diagnosis, toxic and harmful school environments, bullying & hate crime, feminism and toxic masculinity debates, 'safe' spaces, and the pressure to be anything other than you really are, all came up.
The simple things like music, nature, sport, art and hugs all came up as solutions, as well as the importance of having safe spaces and safe people within support networks.
We decided that we wanted to take these discussions further and create some kind of creative resource, developed by young people, for young people during the summer of 2023 - keep an eye out on our specific blog post for that one as we develop our 'Wicked Issues' magazine.
One of the stand out moments during our initial discussions was the fact that 'Prom' has become less of an enjoyable right of passage and more of a traumatic nightmare for many young people. We discovered that our Tribe either didn't feel comfortable attending their own prom due to bullying or social anxiety, or they weren't even in the education system to be invited to a prom. One of our young people had dreamed of prom since childhood, and had visions of beautiful dresses, dancing and laughter, that had disappeared along with their resilience and good mental health once they left mainstream education within the first couple of years of high school.
Our youth Tribe became super animated when the suggestion was made for a 'No pressure prom' where everyone felt welcome, nobody felt judged, and people could rock up wearing whatever they liked and enjoy music, games, karaoke and dancing.
In true Art & Soul Tribe fashion - we immediately set to work to bring the dream into reality and called on our friends and colleagues to help us make our prom extra special ❤️
Jess set to work with some planning sessions during our Wednesday evening Youth Tribe, and the ideas were amazing! We had Karaoke jams, dress code from ball gown to bin bags, and fancy dress obviously welcome! We wanted circus performers and a pick n mix station. Candyfloss machine to non alcoholic cocktail bar run by our young people with fruit punches designed in-house ☺️ We wanted a 'bake off' competition with everyone bringing something they had made from home, and a beautiful graze board table in place of a buffet.
Most of all, we just wanted to be together, and have some fun, without the usual pressures or stresses. We even decided to invite a professional photographer and some influencers to document our event in style and use technology for good!
Our amazing colleagues, along with incredible parent support (Super hero Carla decorated the whole place and made it amazing!!) helped us to achieve the most amazing prom ever - on a shoestring budget!
Take a look 👀 ⬇️.
Roll on No Pressure Prom 2024! ❤️