The Millennium Forum today announced a brand new project that will enable local young people to explore topics around mental health through the arts.  The ‘Happy Stage – Your Forum, Your Stage’ project, which is supported by Arts Council NI and Ulster Garden Villages, invites all those aged between 12 and 18 with an interest in performance (acting, singing and dance) to participate in the 26 week long project.  The Forum is particularly keen to welcome those young people who have never been involved in performing arts previously as this will be a unique opportunity for them to learn new skills from the outset.

Participants will work alongside key health professionals and professional arts facilitators to produce a piece that will be showcased in various venues within the local community.  Already, a number of key professionals have been confirmed to take part including Gary Rutherford (ARC Fitness), Brenda Shankey (Mindfulness Coach), Laura Keogh (vocal facilitation), Ciara Mc Callion (acting facilitation) and  Carie Logue Houston (movement facilitator). Others will be announced shortly.

Cara Mc Cartney, Development and Creative Engagement Manager at the Millennium Forum, said:

“We are thrilled to unveil our latest initiative, Happy Stage – Your Forum Your Stage; a dynamic youth project generously funded by AC NI and Ulster Garden Villages. One in six children experience mental health challenges before leaving school (ref The Children’s Society), making it a pressing concern for our community. The Millennium Forum and its Youth Forum have taken a proactive approach by involving young people in shaping the project’s direction. By giving them a voice in identifying the key issues that impact their lives, this project ensures that it directly addresses their needs.”

She continued:

“This exciting new project is a collaborative effort led by the Millennium Forum team and it’s Youth Forum. As it will be facilitated by arts professionals and health professionals it promises to be an exciting journey towards empowerment and well-being for young people aged 12 to 18.  It adds to a host of free opportunities offered by the Millennium Forum for young people that encourage them to get involved in arts and performance.    As a registered charity we are delighted to be able to provide this opportunity in keeping with our commitment to make a positive difference to the lives of young people in our region.” 

The project is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funded ARTiculate: Young People and Wellbeing Arts Programme. Lorraine Calderwood, ARTiculate Programme Manager, also commented:

“The positive links between engagement in the arts and our health and wellbeing are firmly established and, we believe, providing funding to support projects like this are more important now than ever. The Happy Stage – Your Forum Your Stage’ project will provide opportunities for young people to come together to take part in a range of fun and creative experiences, all of which will help build confidence and promote positive self-expression.”

Ulster Garden Villages Chair, Susan Crowe added:

 “Ulster Garden Villages is delighted to provide support for local young people who want to take part in the Arts.  This project will also help the next generation who may be considering a creative career and employment in the Arts.”

Happy Stage Your Forum Your Stage is a 26-week-long, all-inclusive youth drama project aimed at young people between the ages of 12 to 18. The project is designed to harness the creative potential of drama, dance, song, and peer learning to explore and address the vital issue of young people’s mental health.

The heart of the project lies in the creation of a unique drama and music performance  that will not only be a therapeutic outlet for the participants but also serve as a powerful tool for raising awareness and helping others facing similar challenges.

The Millennium Forum is now inviting young people aged 12 to 18 to participate in this transformative journey. If you or someone you know is interested in exploring positive mental health through performance, gaining self-confidence, building new friendships, and collaborating with arts and health professionals, then ‘Happy Stage – Your Forum Your Stage’ is the perfect project to get involved with.

This exceptional project is entirely FREE for participants and it will take place in convenient 8-week blocks. The first block is set to commence on Wed 18th October. Weekly workshops then run on Wednesdays (6pm-8.30pm) and Saturdays (12noon-3pm) each week at the Millennium Forum. Places are limited so will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

For more information, or to secure your place, email Magsc@millenniumforum.co.uk or tel 02871272776.