A group of talented Performing Arts learners took to the stage of eight Bolton secondary schools during Spring Term to spread awareness of mental health issues among young people.
The 12 aspiring actors, who are all in the final year of their Extended Diploma Level 3 in Performing Arts were fully booked for their week-long tour of ‘The Little Things’. According to the Mental Health Foundation, around 1 in 10 children and young people suffer from mental health problems – and judging from the response rate from schools, mental health is evidently a topic that schools are keen to discuss.
The educational play, set in Bolton, follows Mark – a school pupil who feels increasingly stressed by the pressures in his life and the expectations that others have of him. Mark's teacher delivers a number of lessons about mental health and a cast of DVD characters educate Mark about the 'Five Ways to Wellbeing'.
Local schools eager to see the performance included Turton High, Bolton St Catherine’s Academy and Essa Academy. Sarah Bennett, a Drama Teacher at Essa Academy, described the show as: “A professional, engaging and educational performance that inspired Drama students at Essa Academy. The students and I really enjoyed the play and learnt a lot about mental health. I would happily work with Rachel Eden and her Performing Arts students again.”
‘The Little Things’ was written by Dramatically Healthy, in conjunction with Bolton Octagon Theatre. Kyle Cambray, a professional actor who played the lead in the original production, is now a trainee teacher at Bolton College and directed the performance.
Rachel Eden, Curriculum Leader for Performing Arts at Bolton College, said: “The learners’ performances – many of which were for audiences of at least 200 pupils – were met with a fantastic response. Pupils were fully engaged, and both adults and young people have said that it taught them some valuable lessons – particularly to talk about their own mental health in a more open and positive way.”
Marie Gilluley, Principal and Chief Executive of Bolton College, said: “We are very proud of the dedication of our learners in communicating such an important message in a creative and engaging way. Mental health issues remain a taboo topic of discussion for many; however we encourage our learners to seek the relevant support and this is reinforced by our Matrix-accredited counselling service. We are keen to continue working with local schools to both tackle topical issues and promote the post-16 opportunities that we offer.”