Devon Research Engagement Network Empowers Youth Through Art and Research

20 May 2024 | ,

Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust has launched an initiative to foster research engagement among young people, led and supported by Devon Mind to form the Devon Research Engagement Network (REN2). The aim of this collaboration is to enhance diversity in research participation, particularly within the realm of mental health, with the mission to empower young people by offering them a platform to voice their ideas and concerns.

Central to REN2’s approach was collaboration. Working hand in hand with four enthusiastic sixth form volunteers from Okehampton College, the network co-designed, executed, and evaluated a piece of small-scale but impactful research, tailored specifically for young minds in years 7 to 11.

Ten Okehampton College students from years 9 and 10 eagerly volunteered to participate in a transformative 3-day art workshop. Facilitated by the talented Andy Cairns of West Devon Art Workshops, the budding artists poured their passion into creating pieces that not only expressed their creativity but also addressed critical issues surrounding mental health.

The artwork will soon grace the walls of the college’s meeting room adjacent to the main school reception and is hoped to be exhibited in the local community, serving as a powerful testament to the talent and resilience of our young people.

In recognition of their dedication and commitment, the young participants were rewarded with Amazon vouchers, a gesture decided upon by the sixth formers themselves as a surprise upon completion. This gesture aimed to ensure the genuine engagement of the participants, reflecting REN2’s commitment to authenticity and integrity.

A celebration and dissemination event held in Exeter on April 25th marked a pivotal moment, with Pete Jolly, DMAT Youth Worker, proudly presenting the group’s research findings, showcasing the power of collaboration and youth empowerment.

As one participant eloquently expressed, “I’m proud that I achieved something which will be a part of the school.” Another shared, “It feels really fulfilling to see the works coming together and having an amazing experience at the same time.” These sentiments echo the essence of REN2 — a beacon of hope, empowering the youth to make their mark on the world.

To contribute ideas or learn more about REN2’s initiatives, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.