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'Art therapy' bus supports children

Words by Smiley Team

An “art therapy” bus is launching to support the mental wellbeing of young children. 

At The Bus’ is a small charity based at The Cherwell School in Oxford. It uses a unique art as therapy intervention to support children and young people who suffer from anxiety, depression, trauma and loss; those who have been bereaved, the withdrawn, the bullied and the bullies; and those who have recently arrived in this country and struggle to engage with their education.

On 11 September 2021, At The Bus will officially launch its art as therapy double decker bus at the school. The bus will be launched by three patrons of the charity: artist Jenny Saville, actor Juliet Stevenson and designer Camille Walala who designed the exterior of the bus.  

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Other patrons include artist Grayson Perry, journalist and broadcaster Jon Snow and Mark Thompson, former Chief Executive of the New York Times.

Why the bus?

Rates of depression and anxiety continue to increase amongst children and young people, and there's limited access to mental health support.

At The Bus works in partnership with schools to support education, enhance mental wellbeing, alleviate anxiety, and develop resilience, self-esteem and independence. The Covid crisis also means that therapeutic support for vulnerable young people is more vital than ever before. 

The project is directed by a unique approach, the Beattie Method, devised by Juli Beattie OBE, founder and director of the charity. It's a proven and evaluated methodology which focuses on each student’s individual challenges and difficulties. The emphasis of The Beattie Method is group intervention. It empowers young people to manage their lives and gives them the tools to face challenges supported, and alongside fellow students.  

How does it work?

The programme is devised along the theme of transformation: young people work with everyday objects rather than blank canvases. Vinyl records become self-portrait clocks, old chairs can become works of art based on well-known artists or thrones for children facing a terrible lack of self-confidence.

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The object of transformation is part of the therapy, and in the process of transforming the objects, the young people undergo a transformation of self-worth.

"This is a much-needed resource, and we are looking forward to working with children across the county," says Dr Juli Beattie OBE. "The mental wellbeing of our young people is in crisis. At The Bus will make a real difference to support their wellbeing and education. This is an exciting chapter for Oxford and we hope it will grow into a national provision."

To find out more about the bus or to support the charity, visit its website.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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