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Celebrating Chameleon: Music and Mental Health

Posted by More Music on 06 November 2020

At this time of year, More Music’s Young Producers would normally be deep in the planning stages for Chameleon, a unique annual event, co-produced by young people from across the Lancaster district.

A call out for acts would have been distributed across our social media channels and the group would have been busy programming and developing a marketing strategy for the event, usually held in December to a packed audience.

In comparison to last, this year has looked extremely different due to the massive impact Covid – 19 has had on society. Music sessions and youth support continued on zoom over the summer months and here at More Music, we have returned to face to face provision. But the picture is nothing like normal and many of our usual events have been adapted to new social distancing rules or moved online.

Chameleon has been put on hold until 2021, when we hope to be able to safely put on gigs again and celebrate young people’s amazing resilience and creativity.

But as December approaches, it feels as though a little magic moment that marks the end of the year is missing.

With this in mind, a short documentary, captured by Jo Prescott and edited by Jamie Sumsion captures the essence of last year’s event and features the experiences of those who worked for 10 weeks to produce it.

The team included young people from More Music, the Prop Up Project, Lancashire Youth Challenge and the Lancaster and Morecambe Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

Not only has Chameleon provided a positive environment and safe space for young people to discuss mental health issues, it has celebrated their ability to use creative arts to strengthen emotional resilience. Everyone involved developed new skills and connections.

The 2019 cohort met during the Autumn term, developing devising, project planning, communication and diplomacy skills.

They also developed skills in finance, fund-raising, budgeting and marketing whilst gaining an insight into the technical side of events.

In addition, the team explored the challenges that young people face in their everyday lives and discussed the importance of developing coping strategies, such as engaging in creative activities.

Chameleon is unique in its multi-disciplinary approach, adopted to remove many of the barriers young people face when getting involved in a new project. These include transport issues, anxieties about meeting new people or trying new things.

The group were supported by mental health professionals, youth workers and arts practitioners. By working collectively, they were given a space in which they could develop new skills and experiences. This approach resulted in personal growth and confidence socially. It enabled the group to ultimately succeed in achieving their goals as well as celebrating them.

Chameleon aimed to remove the stigma surrounding young people’s mental health by celebrating confidence and creativity. It not only provided a platform for this, but it demonstrated the innate strength and energy that young people have to overcome adversity.

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