In the Spring of 2016, the Castlecombe Youth Centre in Bromley organised an arts, crafts and, cooking project which took place over twelve weeks. The project was funded by a small grant awarded to the centre by the Jack Petchey Foundation and gave young people the chance to create art, crafts, and food which represented and reflected their community.
The project’s objective was to get the members of the youth centre to think about and discuss what the Mottingham community means to them. The young people were consulted throughout the planning of the project, from deciding what they wanted to paint and cook, to working with the youth centre staff to put their ideas into workable plans. The young people researched different cultural celebrations over the twelve weeks and looked in their families’ cultural background. This gave the young people a greater understanding of the wide-ranging cultures, cuisine, and festivals that were enjoyed by their community-members and gave them a chance to explore their own heritage too.
The club painted two murals, one of which represents an area of Mottingham that young people associate with their community and the other, a representation of the young people which attend the youth centre. They took part in various cooking classes; cooking food from various countries inspired by their community and created art which was culturally identifiable to them as individuals and as members of their families and community.
The project encouraged the young people to bring their families into the youth centre to view their work and gave their families the opportunity to think about their community too. It also showed the community the importance of the Youth Centre and why the young people value the safe space they have there. The parents and carers were very impressed with the showcase saying “it’s great to see the kids really involved in something” and “it’s really interesting to see what the kids are doing, I didn’t know my kids could learn to cook!”
The project was a great success for the young people and they clearly benefited from actively participating in a project that they have planned and executed. One young person commented “I had never used spray paint before and I enjoyed being shown and taught how to do it properly.” Another member particularly enjoyed the cooking classes saying “Tasting lots of different dishes was fun and interesting; I made a cake that didn’t even need to be put in an oven!” The young people were clearly proud of the murals, with one saying “I loved seeing it painted from start to finish, it is awesome and we did it!”
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