Creative YOUCreativity is everywhere. Opportunity is not. We are part of the solution. The secret is in our name. Every year Creative Youth Network gives thousands of young people a taste and thirst for the arts and culture and the joy, life-skills and opportunity they bring. But we want more. Creative YOU is our campaign showcasing how we, you and the engaged, emerging and amazing young creatives we support, come together. We want to reveal how, together, we are ambition, quality, cultural democracy and social mobility in action. Every young person deserves the right to access creativity and development opportunities in the creative and cultural industries. It all starts with education. If all young people have access to creative subjects in school, then talented young people from all backgrounds can pursue their passion, develop crucial skills needed in so many industries and improve their wellbeing. 1. Pledge Add your name and join the many people passionate about bringing creativity back into our schools. With all the pledges we’ll be reaching out to headteachers in Bristol and the South West. We hope this will encourage local academies to give more space to creativity in their curriculum. Bristol, being the creative city we know and love, can pave the way for other regions to do the same, showcasing the true value of creativity. PLEDGE 2. Sign up Join us by signing up to our newsletter where we share best practice of how to support young people. sign up 3. Find out more Join us by reading and sharing our CreativeYOU report which shows how our work brings opportunities for creative expression and enables young people to explore their talent, regardless of background or circumstance. Download our Creative YOU report About us Blog My LGBTQ+ Coping Tools: Compassion, Control, and Connection I recall growing up gay as a time where I toyed with unhealthy, albeit easy, coping mechanisms. These habits were the most "inviting", including alcohol misuse, disordered eating, or skipping lessons. I encountered homophobia and somehow ended up seeing this as a reflection of who I was, rather than a reflection of the close-minded place others were coming from. Now, I have made it my mission as a LGBTQ+ wellbeing practitioner to equip LGBTQ+ Youth with proactive coping skills that could replace the easier but all too often unhelpful coping mechanisms I relied on. 1. Self-compassion Accepting ourselves as LGBTQ+ does not require an alignment of identity with heterosexist norms for the sake of safety. Authentic acceptance is about creating compassionate imagery and mantras to live by so we can cultivate a place of safeness, warmth, and familiarity in the face of insensitive external environments. We can do this within ourselves by choosing to be the compassionate other to ourselves. When the cold, critical, and shame-provoking voice passes through your mind, respond with the tone you would use to talk to your 7-year-old self: warm, soft, and encouraging. Picture yourself or your best friend supporting you. If your imagination is not so active, try and recall a memory of a time when you were being compassionate, generous, or kind to another – then apply that imagery towards your current self. Yes, my capacity to control the way society endorses anti-LGBTQ+ and heteronormative ideas is far from omnipotent. Then again, my capacity to choose a self-compassionate response in the face of stigma, shame, and discrimination is entirely within reach. Societal conventions may shape the supposedly "non-conforming" gender and sexual identities we embody, but how we relate to our self-identities and who we choose to share and celebrate them with is personal - something we claim as ours! 2. Circles of Control I believe LGBTQ+ Youth deserve to learn how to distinguish between blaming oneself for societal problems and taking ownership of problems that stem from unhelpful thought patterns. Turning our attention to what is within our control like LGBTQ+ pride events, activities, and culture we participate in, or planning how to go about challenging queer-phobia safely can feel empowering. As Wellbeing Practitioners, we like exploring the boundaries of control. By drawing our own circle of control, influence, and concern we make sense of what strengths we can build on and what possibilities we could prioritise. Yes, the integrity that comes with showing concern for injustice is invaluable, but I am aware toppling the structures of privilege that challenge LGBTQ+ folk is rarely done alone. 3. Connect The tool I used to turn away from frustration and confrontation was to create and maintain life-affirming connections with likeminded people (online and in-person) – something within my sphere of control. Meeting people who shared similar lived experiences created new possibilities to celebrate and collaborate with each other. Collaboration came in the form of choreographed dance routines, placard and flag making for pride parades, panel discussions, and cooking together. The laughter, and warm acceptance of new friends soothed some of the hurt resulting from stigma. Collaborating on campaigns for safe, inclusive, and compassionate queer spaces created a degree of control I felt deprived of when I focused on being embarrassed and ashamed. Now, with the knowledge that I can control who I care about and who I enjoy free time with, I turn towards those who nourish me for who I am and value how I identify. These days, I accept what I cannot control and embrace what is within my control: compassion, connection, and collaboration. I take this toolbox everywhere! Owen is a wellbeing practitioner specialised in working with LGBT+ young people. In partnership with The Diversity Trust, we offer mental health support for 11-19 year olds in South Gloucestershire. Refer a young person now. How can we help?