BE well

Wellbeing can be defined as a positive state of mind and body, feeling safe and able to cope, with a sense of connection with people, communities and the wider environment. 

Our Future City aims to help children and young people build resilience and enhance their sense of wellbeing through high quality cultural experiences. 

Our aim is to realise the potential of culture to help children and young people build resilience and improve wellbeing.

#BeWell programme 2016-2017

In 2017, OFC worked with partners to develop a new collaborative way of working, to bring the best of creative and education practice to bear on new approaches to improving wellbeing. To date, nearly 400 children and young people aged 2-16 from Brighton & Hove have taken part in the #BeWell programme. 

Co-development was key to ensuring that projects were tailored to meet identified needs and that wellbeing, as well as creative outcomes were met; and we have been working closely with the Brighton City Partnership for Education and a number of the city’s secondary schools. Projects were co-developed and co-delivered by teachers and creative practitioners and included opportunities for continuing professional development, joint reflection and peer learning.

In order to capture the learning from the programme, identify successful models and resources that can be shared, OFC have compiled an evaluation report that draws on feedback from creative practitioners and organisations, teachers, children and young people; collected at the start, during and after each project. The report also provides evidence to support the case for utilising creative experiences as a means to improve wellbeing. For more information from individual projects please see below.








32 children from year 5 worked with dancer, Rosaria Gracia and South East Dance to explore feelings of belonging and overcoming anxiety. Using the theme 'mysteries of the deep', sea shanties, spoken word, props and a variety of movements, the children developed a selection of dances that culminated in a final performance for parents at Fabrica. The children can now see that they can all participate, come together and work well with each other – no matter who is in the mix.

Looking back on the project one child felt " was kind of exciting. Are we going to do something fun or boring? It was actually really fun because we had more freedom to do what we like – Rosaria just helped us pull it all together."

Since the project the school has observed an increase in support between the children and that they are helping each other to manage emotional issues more effectively.


Working with puppeteers, Herringbone Arts, 15 children from year 2 collaborated with their parents/carers to explore the use of voice, communication and self-esteem by creating puppet aliens and alien environments. Puppetry was an effective tool to support the development of communication between children, their parents/carers and school staff – it gave permission to be playful or silly, and to engage in relaxed and positive communication.

Both children and parent/carer’s confidence improved over the sessions and the school have observed that many parents/carers feel more able to talk to teachers, providing a friendly basis for a more productive relationship.

Check out Herringbone Art's Fran Malone's blog to find out why using puppets was essential...



Exploring identity, resilience and ownership of learning, 30 children aged 6-8 worked with musician Lucky Moyo in an African themed music project. Through creative workshops children explored what it meant to be resilient and began to practice attributes and behaviour that constitute resilience. 

When asked what was the best part of the project, one child responded with: "I learnt to relax and try again when things went wrong."



At Elm Grove, 64 children aged 10-11 focused on heroic qualities and shared positive affirmations about themselves and each other. This work was then used to explore the forthcoming transition to secondary school. Working with Alex Buckley, the children worked together to finalise ideas, create storyboards, and combine newly learnt animation techniques to produce their own heroic themed animations.



50 children aged 3-4 explored themes of belonging and community by creating an outdoor structure with the collaboration of art organisation, Same Sky. The nursery now has a symbol that embraces their diversity, something that physically demonstrates that everyone belongs and is welcome. Royal Spa Nursery know that making parents feel welcome helps to make the children feel welcome. Using the arts provided a non-threatening way to include families of all nationalities.


15 pupils with English as an Additional Language began their project by exploring collections and artefacts linked to the history of migration in Brighton & Hove at Brighton Museum. Once returning to school, children worked with visual artist, Jo Coles to create 'treasure boxes' that reflected their journeys and culture, present, future and past. By the end of the project the children were much more confident and genuinely proud to discuss their heritage.

Their treasure boxes were exhibited in a shared event with parents/carers allowing families to feel more embedded in the school community. The children also led parents/carers around Brighton Museum on a return visit, showing what they had learnt about migration.

"It has been an important moment for the family because we go through life without thinking about where we came from, what we are going through, all we’ve lived through together. It was touching to think about where we’ve been and where we are heading. It was a nice and important project for us." - Parents of child involved.

Find out more from Fairlight's #BeWell project through Assistant Head Teacher, Rachael Durneen's guest blog for OFC...


This project was designed to improve engagement of young children with limited communication skills in storytelling activities, through the development of creative and more interactive approaches. Together, 15 children aged 3-4 read Little Red Riding Hood, learnt new Makaton signs, and with the help of artist, Jo Cole, created characters, costumes and sculptures from scrap materials.

Over the course of the project the children’s use of imagination, communication and engagement improved. One teacher involved in the project said "I would never have taken those risks in storytelling, making things, doing drama, going outside and straying off the path! I’m now more confident to adapt it to other stories."

Download learning resources for Early Years from St Paul's creative storytelling project.



Working with themes of belonging, cultural diversity and being different, 23 children aged 3-4 joined visual artist, Jo Coles for creative storytelling. Children read a selection of books on these themes and took part in interactive play and conversations about being special and individual. At the start, teacher's found it hard to pinpoint what to say about diversity to a nursery group but this process really helped to interpret what can be quite an abstract idea for young children.

Since the project, the teachers have continued to use the books and resources, finding ways to link activities to conversations around it being ok to be different.

Download learning resources for Early Years from Patcham Infant's School creative storytelling project, 'We all Live Under the Same Sky'.


20 children aged 3-4 worked with songwriter, Al Start to use song, Makaton and movement to develop speech and communication skills, to help improve their confidence and sense of belonging.
Puppets were also used to build ideas and demonstrate specific situations. Combined with learning Makaton, this also provided professional development for the staff that will continue to influence teaching throughout the nursery in the future.

The songs created by the children then went on to be learnt by the whole Nursery. 


Working with 24 children with English as an additional language, the school worked with musician, Flo Sparham from Brighton & Hove Music & Arts. The children engaged in role play, story telling, music and dance. The project helped children to explore and develop non-verbal forms of communication, in an environment where they had to work together to achieve a creative outcome.

Secondary school

#BeWell projects

Sketchbooks from Varndean Year 7 student's #BeWell project focusing on transitions

Sketchbooks from Varndean Year 7 student's #BeWell project focusing on transitions

3D printed objects created by Varndean Year 7 students

3D printed objects created by Varndean Year 7 students

3D scans from Year 7 Varndean students

3D scans from Year 7 Varndean students


Focusing on times of transition in different cultures this project enabled 12 new year 7 students to talk about transitions that occur throughout our lives. Working with Jo Coles, Ellie Newland, Royal Pavilion & Museums, Varndean Art Department and pastoral staff, students made their own objects from clay, which represented their feelings about transition. These objects were exhibited in a show at the school and were also 3D printed to make mini talismans that students could keep with them at all times. 

"There was a definite progression of the young people becoming more confident, both with themselves and others… by the time of the last clay session the students were talking freely with each other and the staff members present; and were smiling and laughing." - Project leader.


Using drama to explore feelings of anxiety experienced at the time of transition to secondary school, 20 year 7 students developed skills in; listening, communication, team work, self-confidence, breathing, concentration, vocal projection and dramatic improvisation. Culminating in an informal sharing of original pieces devised by the group, in which staff noted improved concentration, tolerance and group work alongside the development of new drama skills.

"There is no discrimination between these four walls so people can be themselves without being judged where as if they were not in these sessions, they would be getting called names such as 'weirdo'." - Participant aged 11. ­

"This project definitely helped with things outside theatre." - Participant aged 12.


Working with a music teacher, music therapist, lead for safeguarding and primary mental health worker (CAMHs), this project focused on creating a safe, creative space within school for two groups of 6 young women aged 12-15 who were self-harming/believed to be at risk of self-harming. Music was used as a tool to encourage listening and collaboration to explore challenging thoughts and feelings; as well as a positive distraction and alternative focus activity. 

"The students formed positive, trusting relationships through this group work which could provide ongoing friendship, support and a sense that they are not alone." - Music Therapist.