Nacho Station teamed up with The Connected Circus, Bendigo Community Health, Yo Bendigo, Headspace Bendigo and 3 public schools in Bendigo to run a series of graffiti workshops that use graffiti and street art as a means of connecting with participants about mental health and wellbeing.
Graffiti Skills & Education
The students start the day with basic training on how to use an aerosol can, we let them go wild on a bunch of temporary walls, this initial painting session lets them have some fun with spray paint and get that initial urge to paint out of their system.
This is followed by a demonstration by Reece that opens their eyes to the process of painting a mural and how to control the aerosol can in order to achieve certain effects.
There are several group conversations about the legalities of Graffiti and Street Art. We discuss where in Bendigo they can paint legally, how to et permission from people to paint on private property, the impact illegal graffiti has on people and businesses and the legal implications of being caught by the police.
Connecting with participants wellbeing
We started by doing some group activities and games to begin connecting them together and learning about each other. After creating a safe supportive container in the group we talked about what they knew about Creativity and how they brought that into their lives.
Everyone paints! That includes the mental health practitioner (Milly), Vern, Reece and any other helpers from the school, we find this builds rapport with the participants, it breaks down the teacher vs student relationship and within minutes everyone involved is an artist, expressing themselves in a safe and supportive environment.
While the students work on sketches for their next painting, our mental health and wellbeing facilitators are able to have some meaningful discussions at a group level, making students aware of local services that can help with their wellbeing.
Talking to the participants while they work on sketches is a great way to address the sometimes difficult issues. They can tune in and out of the conversation and don't feel like they are being spoken at, it sets the tone for a meaningful discussion in a safe setting.
Linking to community
Milly was able to make the participants aware of services available in Bendigo that might be relevant in a group discussion setting and have a discussion around mental health as a group.
Once the group started painting again, it was the perfect opportunity for Milly to approach those students who expressed an interest in the services and she was able to give more relevant information based on their situation.
It was encouraging to see students approach Milly on their own accord looking for advice and discussing any issues they had.