11 Oct Writing Well
In September 2023, Sian Hughes was one of a cohort of six writers selected for Literature Wales’ pioneering ‘Writing Well’ programme.
The year-long professional development programme, which provides training, mentorship, and a small pot of initial seed money, will help the selected writers create and deliver participatory projects which will benefit the health and wellbeing of participants.
Each of the writers involved in the Writing Well programme was selected on the basis of their own particular vision for a health and wellbeing creative writing programme, and in Sian Hughes’s case, the vision was for a programme aimed at young people that would involve physical activity and the outdoors.
“I’m interested in exploring links between creative expression, physical activity, and the outdoors, particularly as it relates to the wellbeing of young people. I’ve noticed in my own practice as a creative facilitator how introducing outdoors-based physical movement into creative writing programmes allows individuals to engage with the unknown and to take risks, which in turn helps promote the divergent mindset critical for creativity and creative expression. There is also a great deal of evidence to suggest that young people who engage in regular physical activity and exercise perform better in creativity tests This is important news in terms of health and wellbeing, as the capacity to think creatively, and for creative self-expression, has been shown to have a tangible and positive impact on wellbeing.”
For the first six months of the development programme, Sian will work with her mentor to research and identify creative learning activities which could be developed and repackaged as outdoors activities, and then incorporated into her own bespoke creative writing programme. As the project takes shape in the second half of the year, she is then hoping to attract further funding. Another idea would be team up with other organisations with shared goals.
“One of my ideas is to partner up with a well-being or sports or environmental organisation. There are programmes out there which already do excellent and groundbreaking work in this area, bringing together the arts, the outdoors, and physical activity, for example the Creative Nature partnership between the Arts Council of Wales and Natural Resources Wales, and of course, forest schools.”
One of Sian Hughes’s most important objectives is to reach young people with neurodivergent conditions such as ADHD or those suffering anxiety post Covid, and she believes that a creative writing programme involving the outdoors and physical activity would particularly benefit this demographic. “The evidence is clear about the benefits of physical activity and the outdoors as it relates to children with ADHD, for example,” says Sian Hughes. “Regular physical activity allows those with ADHD or anxiety to focus and manage intrusive thoughts, whilst the outdoors has been shown to have a calming effect, whilst boosting the capacity for creative learning and creative self-expression.”