We’ve been looking forward to Youth Mental Health Day (7 September) for weeks, knowing we’d have lots to share and celebrate from our projects that strengthen and empower young people.
What we didn’t expect were six short films all at once, animated using stop motion techniques and voiced by the teenagers who made them!
Janson, Garth, Kyle, Ellie, Marshall and Sean are all from Coventry, at school and have a learning disability, autism or both. They joined Teenvine Plus so we could help them develop their passions, learn new skills, make local friends and find different ways to express themselves – all in preparation for their next steps in life.
The programme, funded by BBC Children in Need, is actually called Next Steps because it recognises the disadvantages these young people have faced during the Covid pandemic and the huge benefits an extra helping hand could bring in growing their ambitions and connections to networks of support.
The project this year was particularly focused on unbuckling their freedom of expression, personal opinions and voice. Bringing out their individual personalities like never before!
Enter contemporary audio visual artist Sherrie Edgar and mobile creative animation workshop Let’s Animate. Both local, excited and willing to share their talents and technical know-how with our Teenviners.
First up are Janson and Sherrie and their ‘if you go down to the woods today’ collaboration on the subject of difference.
Janson wanted to use his keen interest in film as a medium for sharing ideas to explain how he sees the world. He and Sherrie settled on a film set at Brandon Marsh nature reserve using ‘creatures’ to create Janson’s visions of being an outsider.
Taking on the roles of writer, camera operator, script and narration, Janson relished the opportunity to work alongside a professional artist to produce his meaningful, intensely personal film.
“Even with difference, people can bring amazing things to the world.” (Janson, Teenvine Plus Next Steps)
Sherrie supported him all the way behind the camera, in front of the lens as puppeteer and sound and editing. The finished product ‘A World Through Different Eyes’ is brilliant and a perfect watch if you’re feeling like an outsider. Especially as it’s all change this week as children and young people return to education.
Now onto five more films produced alongside Let’s Animate by Ellie, Kyle, Sean, Marshall and Garth. From May to July they attended workshops and considered what their futures might hold, their identities, ambitions and power to shape their own lives.
We’re proud to present their imaginative stop motion shorts – including life as a bounty hunter, ocean explorer and Sheriff. If you’re impatiently awaiting series four of Stranger Things, the Sheriff’s town and foe may be a little familiar… enjoy!
Teenvine Plus Next Steps forms part of our Strengthening People action strand at Grapevine. Look out for more stories later this week about the recent achievements of other young people we have been working with.