The Arsenal Foundation has helped to fund local charity Young & Inspired’s Flying Colours project, which helps disadvantaged young people deal with mental health challenges through art therapy. Jenny tells us about it
“I’m 14 and I live in Hackney with my mum and two younger brother. Finances have always been a terrible struggle and we often have to depend on local food banks for basic needs.
“I heard about Flying Colours from my friends and also my therapist. I’m still recovering from an eating disorder and always looking to learn new tools to help me build self-esteem, manage my emotions and become a healthier young person. Flying Colours sounded like an amazing opportunity to try different art-based activities with a focus on mental wellbeing – a win-win proposition for me. And it was. I love every single session.
“The sessions take place in a portable building in a school playground on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesday for two hours each. There is a huge cabinet full of expensive art materials such as oil paints, acrylic paints, easels, canvas sheets clay and much more. There are different types of session, and first up Free Arts is exactly as it sounds – we can use any art medium, any size and tool and just create art. You just do what feels good for you and let your creative juices flow. I love these sessions and I’ve made pieces I’m really proud of.
“Art Therapy is very different because the focus is on expressing things that are difficult to share in words. There is a structure to the sessions – it’s not just about dumping emotions onto paper – and I always feel very calm after these sessions. Then we have journalling sessions, which involve working one-to-one with our art therapist, using art to explore feelings and creating an art journal, and DBT, or dialectical behavourial therapy, which is a type of talking therapy. This is a great method for learning how to regulate emotions and be mindful.
“I hated myself for having an eating disorder, because I wasn’t fat and everyone told me to snap out of it. I now realise I lacked control of my life. Everything was so chaotic, which was really hard for me, and managing my diet – albeit unsuccessfully – gave me a sense of control. Then it spiralled out of my control. The sessions helped me understand myself and find security in my creative pursuits so that I didn’t need to look for unhealthy types of control. I made good new friends, developed my artistic skills and gained confidence in myself, and I know the project has helped a lot of my friends in the same ways. I think it shows how far I’ve come that I now lead my own peer group and am also mentoring someone who’s new to Flying Colours.
“I think it’s fantastic that The Arsenal Foundation is supporting local charities. It feels good that a local football club – Arsenal – cares enough to support charitable activities and help so many people.”
For more information visit youngandinspired.org.uk
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.