Susan Press reports on an arts project which is inspiring young people and bringing them back to the classroom for further training.
“No-hope’ students are more in tune with their futures thanks to a musical project led by a Leeds-based organisation.
The 11 youngsters are taking part in Tools for the Trade.
Run by Interplay in Armley, the scheme is a work-based learning programme for young people who fall under the description of NEETS (not in education, employment or training) or who have problems at school.
It offers students the chance to work alongside artists and music industry professionals.
In the past few weeks, the students have all learned how to write songs and music, using both live instruments and music software, and recorded their efforts in a proper studio.
They have also produced their own music videos and animations, created a live band and developed their photography skills.
Interplay artistic director Steve Byrne said:“The aim of the programme is to engage teenagers and channel their energy into something positive.
“We use the arts as tools of re-engagement, and as a means of raising self-esteem and aspirations.
“We also aim to provide young people with a route back to training and education and the necessary skills to make this successful, as well as offering useful industry-based experience and skill.”
Natasha Binnall, 15, was a problem attender at Priesthorpe School, Pudsey, before embarking on the course
After 12 weeks of taking part in Tools For The Trade, she is set to finish her studies with a good record of making it to classes.
She said: “Tools for the Trade has really improved my confidence and I’ve made new friends. The staff here are really friendly and they understand us.”
The youngsters’ work was showcased yesterday at an Open Day at Interplay’s headquarters on Armley Ridge Road.
Previous films made by participants have been screened at the Leeds Young People and Children’s Film Festival and some students have even released their own CDs.
Interplay is running its own Film Premiere and Awards Ceremony this year at the Hyde Park Picture House.
Visitors to the open day also saw a photographic exhibition by Vicky Corker, from Pudsey Grangefield School, who has just been accepted on an Art and Photography course at college.
Musician Lee Smith who leads the project said: “Over the past 12 weeks we have seen an amazing transformation in the attitude and the dynamic of the entire group.They came to Interplay with a less than healthy relationship with the term “work” and have discovered through being creative and setting their own goals that working doesn’t have to be unpleasant.”
The Tools for the Trade initiative is funded by a partnership led by IGEN and Leeds Education.
Interplay, founded in the early 1970s, is funded by Arts Council England and Leeds City Council