Comfort Zone, 2008-10
Supported by The Wellcome Trust, Comfort Zone was an innovative creative learning programme for young people, bringing them together with professional artists, scientists and sports coaches to explore and learn about science and its relevance in their lives through a range of interdisciplinary arts, sports and science activities. The project involved a programme of workshops for young people led by a team of artists and scientists, targeted through the Arsenal Positive Futures and Kickz programmes and youth serviecs in Islington, resulting in the creation of live performance and film work by young people which expressed their ideas and learning, and was shared through a series of events for audiences of young people and the wider public. Performances and activities took place at Emirates Stadium in 2009 and Hornsey Road Baths in 2010.
Scientifically the project explored the science of fear and enabled young people to explore and learn about what happens physically and psychologically when we enter unfamiliar territory, try something new and step out of our comfort zone. Through hands on science and arts activities participants looked at the physical and chemical processes at work – increased heart rate, dilated pupils, sweating, inability to move, head pounding, quickened breath etc. – what triggers this, how does the body respond and why. The project developed the young people’s knowledge and understanding of their own reactions to different situations and how they can use this knowledge to make more positive choices about their own behaviour. This project was especially important at a time when issues of territory are creating increased conflict and threats to young people’s lives in Islington.
The project was delivered by a team of experienced arts and science professionals from a range of disciplines, who collaborated to create a workshop programme for young people, which mixes arts and science and offered young people the chance to take part in exciting workshops which helped them to learn and understand through doing. The lead art form and discipline for the project was Parkour, led by experienced practitioners and teachers Parkour Generations – working in combination with Heather Barnett and Carl Stevenson filmmakers, Yemisi Blake, writer, Kate Scanlan – choreographer (Breakin’ Convention at Sadlers Wells), Katie P – dancer/choreographer, Tony Nwachukwu and Peter Adjaye music producers. The scientific input was provided by sports scientists Andrew Head and Alison Carlisle from Roehampton University (SPARC); Ashish Ranpura, a neuroscientist from UCL and a Dr Anand Saggar a clinical geneticist from St George’s Hospital. Workshops took place outdoors in the urban environment.