'Growing Up in a Pandemic' was the focal theme for our partnership project between Simpson Library in Bathgate, Bathgate Academy and Ellie Stewart. The project was funded through the First Minister's Reading Challenge Library Workshops grant, and created a safe space for young people to explore their feelings, creativity and thoughts on the past few years. We explored this through drama and creative writing.
Reconnections across the community
The project helped us reconnect with the local secondary school, Bathgate Academy, after two years of the pandemic. We worked with a range of pupils in S3/S4 across two workshops linked by the theme of 'Growing Up in a Pandemic.'
The creative writing workshop was delivered by Ellie Stewart who is a local playwright, poet and facilitator from Bathgate in West Lothian. The workshops created a space for young people to express their creativity and imagination through poetry, prose and connecting with each other.
Tom Oliver, Bathgate Academy school librarian, said:
The project was great fun to participate in. The students loved being there and doing their thing and as staff we thoroughly enjoying seeing them all so enthusiastic and creative. I am sure we would all want to do something like this again and hopefully regularly as it is so inspiring to be a part of.
Importance and impact
'Growing Up in a Pandemic' was an important project for a few reasons:
It created a space after two years of distancing and isolation for young people to connect with each other in a creative, safe and non-judgemental space
It sparked a love and interest in literacy outside of the classroom. It enabled young people to see literacy as a creative and exciting process rather than something they are being marked on
It enabled young people to discuss and express their feelings in a creative space without directly talking about the pandemic
Ellie Stewart, facilitator, said:
Spring 2022, and we're still tentatively reaching out to each other, finding new ways to collaborate and making sure people feel safe.
I'm nervous. Some of the students are nervous. Perhaps the staff are nervous too. We need to relax into the writing process and have fun.
So we play games, write collaborative poems, quote our favourite song lyrics and find a safe space to express what is important to us at this very particular moment in time.
The library is buzzing. The students are feisty and creative. They collaborate and support each other.
Our small gift is a safe space and a warm invitation to create.