Article by Jemima Jones
Coming into my role as a National Saturday Club co-facilitator, I found myself excited about the opportunity but also nervous and with many worries. What if the members were difficult to deal with, or if my role as a cofacilitator was redundant? It was nerve-wracking at first, but then I realised that the teenagers were probably a lot more nervous than me and that I needed to help them feel relaxed and have as much fun as possible.
I expected my role to focus on helping set up the art and design sessions, aiding participants with their projects, and planning and carrying out icebreakers, but in reality, there was a lot more to the role than just this. I was also responsible for ensuring the young people felt comfortable and welcome at all times and supporting them in developing their creative and teamworking skills.
Learning how to lead successful icebreakers proved to be important for the Saturday Club as it helped to build up the participants’ confidence and inspire them to create what they wanted. For instance, for the ice breaker for the “environment week,” I put up lots of paper on a wall and asked them to collaborate in designing a large drawing of a city taken over by nature and animals. All students seemed excited and inspired by this activity, which filled me with gratification as I could feel I had made a positive impact on them. When introducing them to photography, I also felt like I had helped some of them find a new passion, which was really rewarding.
Not only did I support the participants with their artistic work, but I also cared for their personal development. I would work with them 1:1 when they were feeling shy or struggling with the tasks. I especially supported them during the Arup masterclass we assisted, as it was a very professional and, therefore, daunting environment.
As a graphic design student, being part of the Art and Design club was a great opportunity to apply and further develop skills relevant to my course. I used my print-making skills when participants did lino cut prints, and I was able to help out with layout, colour and text when making zines. I was able to contribute to health and safety as well as I have a qualification for this. I also acquired new skills, such as using the risograph machine for printing, and got to be part of important opportunities. Attending an Arup masterclass was especially important since I have an interest in social design and business management. Their projects are socially and environmentally conscious, so I knew I was learning from the right people.
The exhibition in London was not only a fun day out, but it also summed up the whole experience. The participant’s work was shown in the prestigious Somerset House, where it was viewed by all sorts of professionals. It really reflected how important their work was and displayed what the new generations care about and how they will take action in the future. As the only co-facilitator on the London trip, I felt I had a meaningful impact on the participants, bringing them together in a fun environment and assisting them if they had any worries. This trip and collecting my certificate at the graduation ceremony were definitely my favourite moments
The role made me feel inspired and as though I had made an impact on something really special. I was most surprised by how welcoming the members were; I never felt judged or unwanted. The sessions were exciting because I got to try out new skills, and I felt as if I was giving back to the community by encouraging 13–16-year-olds to participate in activities they might not have the chance to do at school. It has been fulfilling to see shy and quiet children gain confidence and make new friends whilst also creating some really successful work. As a graphic design student, I was happy to share my own skills and ideas whilst also learning from the young members – their ideas and playful approach to design were very inspirational!
I have developed skills such as working with teenagers, leading a group, managing and planning activities, public speaking, and teaching creative skills. I also had the amazing opportunity to attend a one-off sustainability masterclass and have my name on the wall at the start of the exhibition.
I would 100% recommend the role because it is a unique experience that allows you to make a difference in young people’s lives and boost your well-being as it comes with a great sense of achievement and pride. It is a unique qualification that looks excellent on your CV, and I will definitely be applying to take part again next year!