This is you
Project Team: Dr Kerry Chappell & Dr Margo Greenwood October 2013
This report has been entitled “This is you” as the findings indicated that at the heart of the project was the aim to re-engage the young people with ‘themselves’ and on many levels this was achieved in practice.
2.1 How has the young people’s ‘engagement’ changed/shifted during the project?
There was evidence within the data that the young people’s engagement had shifted in four different ways within the time frame of the project. Over time they engaged more fully with: their own power to communicate physically and across cultures, each other/others physically and verbally, their commitment to a task, and combining/ integrating parts of themselves. There was also evidence that for one student in particular the project had had a profound influence on the way in which she engaged in life on a day-to-day basis. Alongside this there was evidence of less appropriate kinds of engagement perhaps triggered by the intensity of the project’s ‘creative physicality’. This demonstrates that part of the engagement process for these young people in the longer term is to understand how to manage the highs and lows of this kind of experience. Finally, there was evidence that the very commendable high level of engagement sustained by the young people across the project was perhaps not completely sustainable after it had finished. This is not an entirely negative comment, as with the intensity of the project it would be surprising if all the young people were able to sustain such high level commitment beyond the life of the official project.
2.2 How has the young people’s self-image and self-expression changed/shifted during the project?
In relation to self-image, findings show that there were shifts towards greater self-esteem. However, there was also evidence within the data at the end of the project of: continuing low self-esteem and poor body image. Continuing low self-esteem was evidenced by the Rosenburg self-esteem scale. All seven young people scored below 25, the number below which is considered to display very low self-esteem. Three quarters of the overall results stayed the same, showing consistency within the comparative study. Although each young person showed a positive change somewhere within the ten questions by the end of the project, the highest score was only 22, with 31-34 being considered average self-esteem. Of the ten questions in the questionnaire, two were given lower scores by two of the seven young people by the end of the project. This may not indicate a lower self-esteem necessarily, as the qualitative data shows that the young people were becoming more self-aware and grappling with challenges never before experienced. These same young people felt that they had achieved more than they imagined at the end of the project, yet they had also gone through a process in which they had, at times, been frustrated with themselves and their previous limitations, as perhaps indicated by the lower score on these questions.
However there were also examples of greater self-esteem with two of the young people making clear shifts in being able to recognise and appreciate who they were.
Three of the seven young people interviewed towards the end of the project were explicit in their poor body image.
The young people’s self-expression shifted in two ways over the duration of the project, through being present to the moment and initiating connection. The former could particularly be seen through young people taking physical and mental ownership of their creative work. And the latter was particularly evidenced for one young woman who shifted from shying away from interaction to herself stating that she actively sought out conversation and clearly attributing this to experiences within the project.
2.3 How has the young people’s self-confidence changed during the project?
Over the duration of the project, the young people expressed increased confidence through their creativity, connection and adventure. The young people themselves identified that they were both becoming confident through being creative and becoming more creative as they became confident, especially the girls. Increased confidence through connection could be seen in the young people’s connection both the creative work and to other people. Adventure also played a big part in all of the young people’s shift in confidence, but particularly the boys. The performance and the travel was a goal that was stretching them, and as they reached that goal, they sensed a shift in themselves. For the girls, the adventure of travel and performance was also a key to their confidence shift, but they often referred to a new independence.
2.4 How have the young people’s relationships changed/shifted during the project?
The young people’s approach to relationships had shifted in five different ways within the project. They showed increased support for each other and an increased awareness of group dynamics; they engaged in group cohesion in a time-limited company, and experienced and overcame tensions. Some of these shifts occurred through celebration of shared project success. Across the project there was evidence that the young people developed an understanding of what it meant to successfully be in different relationships with different people and how the dynamics of this might work. There was a clear connection between this and the physical relationships that the young people were required to engage in during the creative dance work, although this process was not without its struggles. Very much connected to their increased awareness of group dynamics was the development of a strong group or company cohesion.
2.5 What were the skills developed by the young people (foreign language, discovery of another culture, experience to travel)? How might they transfer in the future?
There was evidence of the development of five different kinds of skills for the young people during the project: overcoming language as a barrier, leadership, choreography, movement skills and discovery of culture. Interestingly overcoming the language barrier meant learning to understand what the French young people were saying, even though they didn’t understand the vocabulary that was being used. Part of developing their choreographic skills, was developing problem-solving skills, their ability to deal with the unknown and their teamwork. Interestingly, discovering culture meant opening up the young people’s horizons in terms of both new places and their home city.
2.6 How do the young people feel about their future at the end of the project?
By the official end of the project there were two main ways in which the young people felt the project had contributed to shifting their feelings about their future: that dance has a place in their life and that they have a stronger sense of direction. This is confirmed by the fact that at least four of the young people had signed up to be part of Attik Youth Dance in the autumn of 2013. New senses of direction included one of the young people seriously considering working towards dance training and two others becoming very clear about career choices to be a photographer and a dance movement therapist.
2.7 How has the project encouraged the construction of a social and professional project and/or the prospect of training for these young people?
There was certainly evidence that a coherent professional project had taken place.
There was also evidence from the adult data that there was a prospect of offering training for the young people with at least four of them expressing an interest in being part of Attik Youth Dance in autumn 2013, after the official end of the Includance project. They had also earmarked the dance course at Plymouth City College as another dance avenue that some of the young people might access. There was evidence too though that the project had raised high expectations, which needed managing beyond the official end of the Includance project.
2.8 Emergent Themes
There were four main emergent themes: dealing with risk/threat, having fun!, the evaluation process as an opportunity for safe confession in interview, the role of adult practitioners. The first two were ‘hidden threads’ which played surprisingly powerful roles within the dynamics of the project. The third highlights an area of future learning in terms of this kind of approach to evaluation. The fourth makes available evidence which may be useful to the adult practitioners in the project who are analysing their own practice.
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