The foundation of the Breathe Programme is creative drama, an approach specifically developed for educational and awareness raising purposes. It is an improvisational, non-performance driven and process oriented form of drama. Learner-participants are guided by a facilitator to imagine, enact and reflect on experiences that may be real or hypothetical scenarios designed to raise specific issues in a space where thoughtful engagement with difficult subjects can occur. In practice, individuals and groups set out to resolve problems and seek solutions through the medium of exploration and expression.
The most consistent finding was enhanced engagement and connection between students. Engagement and connection were enhanced by:
- Establishing rapport
- Making connections
- Establishing appropriate levels of trust
The programme reached students who were otherwise not being reached. Communication was enhanced by
- Articulating opinions clearly
- Listening to others
- Showing respect
Emotional well-being is the key to unlocking the door. A whole school/centre approach towards positive mental health is critical to the well-being of our students. We tend to respond to issues rather than focus on preventing them. We deal with each issue in isolation offering a quick-fix. We must approach the emotional well-being of our young people through a planned and consistent programme. Bullying, alcohol, substance abuse and suicide are often results of an unhealthy society. It is time to stop thinking only of our economic capital and start investing in our social capital- our young people. This is what the Breathe initiative aims to do.
The reception received in many schools has been heartening as depicted below in pictures from Larkin Community College, Champions Avenue, Dublin 1;
Gallery as per Schools