This is you
Project Team: Dr Kerry Chappell & Dr Margo Greenwood October 2013
This report evaluates the English strand of the Includance project in relation to project objective 1: to promote the social inclusion of disaffected or disadvantaged (from hereon in referred to as ‘disengaged’) young people. The evidence showed that overall all of the young people to some degree increased their engagement during the project although sometimes this increased engagement led to less appropriate behaviour. What underlies the more positive findings around engagement might be explained through the documented shifts in self-image, self-expression and self-confidence. The data also showed some less positive trends in terms of self-esteem and poor body-image, but this perhaps hints at the young people’s growing self-awareness, including a realisation of their previous limitations and frustrations connected to this. One of the project’s ‘hidden threads’: dealing with risk and threat was an underlying process which could have a strong influence on the young people’s behaviour at key points in the project. This is worth attention in future projects of this nature.
It is important to note however, that it is too much to expect a project of this short a duration to fully shift the negative behaviour, self-esteem and self-image issues of such a group of disengaged young people. This is not necessarily a criticism of the project but a recognition that significant positive shifts in projects like this are likely to be for some and not all the young people.
The evaluation findings also provided evidence of shifts in the young people’s ability to engage better in relationships, and that they developed skills in overcoming the language barrier, leadership, choreography and movement skills, and discovered both their own and new cultures. There was also good evidence that for most of the young people they had more positive aspirations for their future, which they often explicitly connected to their involvement in the Includance project.
Finally, it is important to bring the findings back to the two selected impacts from the Creative Impact framework: Active Citizenship and Embodied Cultural Capital. The first impact is about whether or not the young people shifted from being passive consumers of culture to active participants and creators. It is hopefully clear from the conclusions above that the young people engaged much more than they would have done usually, both with cultural activities and in being creators themselves. As above it is difficult to make claims about this impact beyond the confines of the project. However, the evidence above regarding future aspirations shows that at least at this point the young people have stronger senses of direction as to their future pathways and societal contributions.
The second Creative Impact is about whether the young people are able to take more risks and break out of their usual patterns of behaviour to do something new and different for them, as well as enhancing their creativity. Again the above conclusions show that the young people were impacted in this way to some extent. Their future aspirations at least show them able to break out of their usual patterns of thought about their control of their future and what it might hold. The evidence also certainly shows that, not without struggle and tensions, did they develop their creativity within the project and so show greater self-expression and engagement.
Drawing across all of the above to comment lastly on the success of the project in “promoting the social inclusion of ‘disengaged’ young people”, the English Includance strand went beyond ‘promotion’ and actively re-engaged a vulnerable group of young people with themselves and each other. The evidence shows that this was certainly not easy; at times it was challenging and uncomfortable (physically and mentally). Although this evaluation is not in a position to make causal claims about these young people’s futures, the words of two of the young people point towards key lessons about ‘re-engaging’ that they have learned and will take with them on their journeys:
“I’ve learnt that you get more out of things depending on how much you put in”
“It’s making me go out of my comfort zone…‘cos I’d never normally do it. So doing that is making me try new things”.
To read the full report, please email Emma for a copy