St Cecilia’s students ‘Bounce Back’ with mental health podcast

A group of girls at St Cecilia’s College in Derry have created a series of inspirational podcasts, addressing mental health issues and the impact of the pandemic.

Working with professional artists from Bounce Culture, students have written scripts, conducted interviews, learned technical skills and even created their own music soundtracks for the project which has involved 24 year 8 girls.

Tanya Wakeley, lead teacher on the project at St Cecilia’s College, said: “For the podcasts, we asked the students to focus on lockdown and how they coped with isolation from their peers and not being able to come to school. The project has been really fantastic. We’ve really seen their confidence grow. It’s given the group an opportunity to come together to talk about their mental health in a really positive way and also to be in control of their own learning. The podcasts they have created will be shared with the wider school community and the project has been so successful we are already planning how we can build upon it next year to take it out into the community.”

Kwame Daniels, Creative Director and lead artist at Bounce Culture, said: “This has been a brilliant project to be involved with. The students have been really enthusiastic and they’ve had the chance to try all sorts of new things that go into planning and making a podcast. There’s been opportunities to get behind the mic, we’ve been teaching set up and technical skills and they’ve even been learning to DJ, create their own music, to scripting and conducting interviews. The work we’ve done here with this group of student’s feeds into other aspects of their school life, like building literacy and numeracy skills, teamwork and learning to think creatively. To be able to take ownership of each stage of the creative process has been incredibly powerful for them.”

The school was one of eleven to receive funding through the Creative Schools Partnership in September 2021. Supported by National Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Urban Villages Initiative and the Education Authority, the programme is designed to encourage schools to embrace the benefits of the arts by injecting more creativity into the classroom and improving educational outcomes for students. Schools were given the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £15,000 each to develop a two year arts project that would bring professional artists into the classroom to teach students new skills, build self-confidence and explore creative expression.

Anne McNaulty, Sophie Glackin, Tanya Wakeley (St Cecilia's College) and Kwame Daniels (Bounce Culture). Photo by Martin McKeown
Hannah McElhinney, Bella Cassidy, Tanya Wakeley (St Cecilia's College) and Kwame Daniels (Bounce Culture)