B.CREATIVE CHALLENGE SHORTLIST

Youthnest

Team: Christina Chatzargyrou, Maria Chrysoula Petala

youthnest_logo

Introduction

We have grew up and studied in Greece, a country where recession stills alive almost ten (10) years now. Challenges, such as extreme poverty, evictions, loneliness, homeless people, refugees and public education cut create a huge need for a bottom up approach in our society. Furthermore, unemployment in well-educated youth, middle-aged citizens, but also isolation in retired elderly people create a suffocation in our society that needs a well being breath, more than ever. Researching the main social problems in our country we have reached the idea of engage for the communities a few actors of change.

Having traveled a lot, mostly thanks to European exchanges and training, we have interacted with people who shared with us innovative solutions, that brought a change in their communities. Such an idea is creating spaces for health and well being inside cultural institutions, mainly museums and galleries.

We chose to get involved with culture and specifically with museums, because the need for well being in Mediterranean area and Balkan countries is not popular among the citizens. However, we strongly believe, that citizens need to engage actively in cultural projects, that can improve their lifestyle, boost their education and skills, widen their network. In the end, any cultural or social program for wellbeing and health should really influence deprived target audiences and make them feel an active part of their community. In our turn, with this project we are trying to actively change the society by involving citizens to its process, so as to create a new norm of life and well being. The idea is easy, smart and could be implemented worldwide, making the best of every cultural institution and foundation, while simultaneously help and support essentially the social groups in need.

Concept

Over the past few years, an increasing number of museums have been exploring the impact that their collections can have on people’s health and well being. Having been inspired from such studies and best practices around culture and well being, we focus on how cultural institutions can make the best of their facilities in order to serve the community and meet the local health and well being goals and ambitions, acting in collaboration with local communities and partner agencies.

We introduce key activities that cultural carriers could implement, so as to engage specific target groups (unemployed, the elderly) and provide them with skills, network and creativity. We totally believe in this project, because it can reach our vision: “In 21rst century museums to be actors of change for society, in order to empower deprived target audiences”.

At Youhnest, we are developing solutions oriented services through youth engagement for cultural, academic and business entities. Our tools are collective intelligence, participation and design thinking. Υοuthnest won a scaleup award from stART, a program of the Robert Bosch Stiftung conducted in cooperation with the Goethe Institut Thessaloniki and the Bundesvereinigung Soziokultureller Zentren e.V. Our vision is to achieve effective collaboration towards an innovative society, while our greatest strength is its innovative approach which leads to practical recommendations.

Key activities

1. Creative workshops
Creative workshops encompass a wide range of activities and art forms, including painting, sculpting,music,singing, dance, drama, creative writing, poetry, film-making, photography, arts and crafts activities. A recent Australian study found that even as little as two hours a week of creative activity enhances mental wellbeing and there is further research on the benefits of art on health, confidence and well being, so it is natural that the vast majority of projects surveyed follow this approach. A typical museum session of this type, as we discovered through our research, involves a creative workshop within the museum for a small group, either as a stand-alone session or more often following a structured museum visit and/or an object handling activity. The majority of creative workshops are led by freelance artist but many are also facilitated by museum staff.In some cases the “products” of the creative workshops feed back into the museum as a display or a performance. Specifically, Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Taking a Vie programme has been developed specifically for the needs of people with dementia and their carers, created in partnership with includes a walking tour through YSP to see sculpture, followed by hands-on making session where participants can create 2D or 3D artwork which capture their responses to the site and the collections.

2. Mind-body-spirit
This category includes health walks, yoga and other forms of gentle exercise, mindfulness and spiritual activities as well as any other activity aimed at enhancing a person’s well being as opposed to targeting a specific illness. This is a growing area of work for museums with great potential for further development. Health walks are a simple and cost effective activity with a range of health benefits and great flexibility to be adapted to individual mobility levels. Already a number of museums run Tai Chi and Yoga sessions both within gallery spaces and outdoors, which usually carry a small charge of around 5 euros per session. For example a mindful meditation is a practice to enhance awareness and fully inhabit the present moment. Museums are safe spaces where collections and artwork can be used to focus the ming, enhance ways of seeing and experiencing surroundings.

3. Organisational change
This category covers museums actively changing their organisational structure on multiple levels in response to the health and wellbeing agenda.Organisational change may include:

-significant changes which go beyond the regular provision for specific health needs. The cinema museum in our hometown (Thessaloniki) offers replaced screenings to people with mobility issues, mothers with prams, people on the autistic spectrum and people with conditions relating to older age, that is people who may find the experience of a cinema screening challenging due to lack of space, darkness or overcrowded theatre.

-rethinking management structure. A growing number of museums are introducing Advisory Panels consisting of service users or mixed panels of museum and health care officers who make decisions on all matters relating to health in the museum.

-a complete restructure of the museum to put well being at the heart of the design and mission of the museum. A hospital based museum, Bethlem Art & History Collections Trust initiated the museum of the mind project to raise awareness of mental health issues and reduce stigma through its collections and spaces, and its work with service users and clinicians.

-the active participation of museums in wider initiatives such as submitting a dementia action alliance plan as a commitment to becoming a dementia friendly organisation.

About the team

Christina Chatzargyrou is the Audience development manager at Youthnest. She is in charge with the development of the audience development strategy, the training of the team in audience development trends, the developing and coordination of the social media strategy/accounts, the awareness campaign and the team branding strategy and the coordination of the university community.

She is currently enrolled in Law School at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Christina is an extroverted person who invest her time to explore new skills and new ideas. She has experience in communicating new projects and events and developing their audience development. Her passion for marketing, start-ups and project development keeps her motivated, positive and productive. She is a doer!

Chrysa Petala is the Service Development Manager at Youthnest. She is in charge of designing the workshop service and methodology, is responsible for the facilitating tools, the creative facilitating and the workshop proposal writing. She identifies the carrier’s needs and provides it with the relevant and effective process for maximum results.

She has a BA in Finance and Accounting – Economic Sciences from the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki.

Chrysa has a particular interest in innovative management and human-centered approach. She is constantly looking for opportunities with social impact. She is optimistic and creative.

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