AMPLIFIED – a volunteer’s perspective…

Now that the last round of applause has died down, we asked a couple of the Little Green Pig volunteers to reflect on their experience working on AMPLIFIED.

First up, Chris Callard:

As a story mentor on other Little Green Pig projects, I am sometimes left wondering: what exactly did the young person take from this workshop? What did they learn, how did creating stories help their confidence? The resulting stories and poetry are there for us to see, but less obvious is what has changed inside a young person’s head, what they might take and use in other areas of their life.

Not so with AMPLIFIED. As mentors it was a privilege to see the effect on these young speakers at first hand. Two weeks before AMPLIFIED they arrived for the weekend workshop with no public speaking experience, understandably nervous at the prospect of a performance in the Brighton Festival, and in forty-eight hours wrote and learned to perform their talk to a crowd of more than a hundred. I left at the end of the weekend worried that their talks were not all performance-ready, that two days was not enough time.

A group of young people on stage as part of Amplified. Photo by Chloe Hashemi.

Photo credit: Chloe Hashemi

But on the actual night, during every young speaker’s performance I found it hard to believe the transformation from the anxious individuals of two weeks earlier. Some speakers abandoned hard-worked scripts in the middle of their talk, to improvise more deeply into an incredibly personal story. Others held themselves together and continued even as their talk visibly affected them with its emotional impact. Not that it mattered if they had faltered by then, so rapt did they all hold the audience. During practice of talks at the weekend workshop, they dashed back to their seat as soon as it was over – here each speaker stood and accepted their deserved applause. (Praise here must also go to MC Cecelia Knapp, who held the whole event together with great encouragement and warmth for the speakers.)

Photo Credit: Chloe Hashemi

And the talks they created had the power of all good art to affect and change not just themselves, but other people. One audience member told me afterwards: ‘As the talks began, it irritated me that a parent was allowing their child to call out and interrupt from the back rows. Then Stephanie told us the story of her autistic brother and all my irritations vanished.’ I am sure each speaker’s story affected audience members in many and varied ways, giving us all more empathy for and understanding of the lives of modern teenagers.

I am so proud and happy to have been part of this project – may there be many more.

Paul O’Connell shared:

It was such a great privilege to have been a part of this extraordinary project with such inspiring young people and their families and Little Green Pig staff and volunteers alike. An amazing, unforgettable experience.

Photo Credit: Chloe Hashemi