Young people from across Sussex have been collaborating on a new social media channel, using creative ideas to raise awareness of issues such as mental health, racism, and body positivity. The channel, named Luma, went live on Instagram on Monday 21st June with content produced by a diverse range of teenagers and community organisations.

Luma is funded as part of Everyday Creativity, a scheme spearheaded by Culture Shift and East Sussex County Council exploring how being creative can improve people’s mental health during lock down. It will feature a mixture of storytelling, photography and video work, with young people working in collaboration with mentors from the creative industries, including Amy Love and Georgia South from punk band Nova Twins.

The first pieces of content include explorations of LGBTIQ+ stereotyping, experiences of being in care, unusual therapies and a video series exploring different cultures through food.

Last month Hastings teenagers Izzy Withers, Elisha Edwards and Justin Greenland interviewed local bands Kid Kapichi and Blabbermouth before their sold out shows at the De La Warr Pavilion. “As both of the bands are made up of all male members, we thought it would be interesting to ask them questions that female artists often get asked,” says 14-year-old Izzy. “They were actually really uncomfortable to be asked questions about their appearance, rather than their music – but female artists get asked things like that all the time.”

Elisha, 19, who has taken a lead role in the project, adds: “I’m so excited to be part of Luma; social media can be such a negative space, but all of the work we’ve been doing has been about creating happy, spirit-lifting content which promotes positivity.”

Over the course of five months, the project will work with around 50 young people, who are mentored to make thought-provoking content based around ideas and issues that are important to them. The creators come from a range of backgrounds, and are given training in design, filming, writing and editing by their mentors.

The project is being led by Hastings organisation Eggtooth in partnership with Isolation Station and Home Live Art. The organisations are hoping the channel will grow as a place where local young people can express themselves, learn new skills and develop resilience and confidence. Sally Greig, Eggtooth’s co-director, says: “At Eggtooth we’ve been using creative practices to improve young people’s mental health for many years, particularly through art, music and performance.

“With Luma, we’re seeing a different kind of creative process, in terms of video and design, but also how empowering it is for young people to use a social platform to confront issues that are important to them – whether their personal ones, or things they want to change about the world.

“It’s also very inspiring to see such a deep level of co-creation between teenagers as young as 14 and adult creative professionals – which we really believe inspires young people that these are career pathways that are very much open to them.”

Luma has so far involved work with organisations including the De La Warr Pavilion, White Rock Youth Theatre, All Sorts and the East Sussex Youth Cabinet, DV8, The Children in Care Council and The Hastings Youth Council.

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