Using arts and drama to improve youth mental health

Posted on Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Horizon Theatre Company, a local Wiley Park not-for-profit multi-arts organisation, received a $15,280 donation from Canterbury to fund its project, ‘Going Forward Towards Before’ – an arts and drama project aimed at young people of Canterbury-Bankstown.

In the wake of the pandemic, the project was designed to reintroduce the idea of physically working together, to go forward to where society was like pre-pandemic. During the project, participants were encouraged to express their feelings about their experience of lockdown and invent ways on how to manage a successful return to the world we once considered normal.

“Responses from participants were overwhelmingly positive. One participant started off shy but felt more confident as the workshop progressed. It is comments like that that makes us feel the project has achieved its goals and we could not have done so without the support of Canterbury,” said Maddy Slabacu, Founder and Artistic Director of Horizon Theatre Company.

Through structured workshops, participants learned how to perform on-stage and how to express themselves whilst working on their soft skills of leadership and team building. The project engaged approximately 700 young people and helped boost their self-confidence, promote resilience, and promote better mental health outcomes.

“According to research, young people experienced high rates of psychological distress, feelings of loneliness, educational disruption, and unemployment during the pandemic. Horizon Theatre’s project addressing these needs is something that we are proud to support – easy access to mental health services should be a priority for everyone as we navigate post-pandemic,” said Peter Winchester, Chairman of Canterbury League Club.