Wildfire, rights of passage using creativity for girls and women
A few years after completing the Diploma in Documentary Photography at the University of Wales Cardiff I was exploring what to do next. During this time I attended several Landmark Education courses in London including the Landmark Forum, the Leadership program and the Self Expression and Leadership training. This led me to develop a course myself in 1999 which evolved into a voluntary group called 'Wildfire.' With the inclusion of a local social worker, a teacher, a youth worker, local artists and many others in this group we explored rights of passage using creativity for young girls and women in Cardiff. Our aims were to help disadvantaged young women in Cardiff and accordingly we set out to find out what the young women needed to create and move forward in their lives.
Having initially thought the work would involve helping girls fulfil their dreams I immediately realised that the reality was a step earlier in that they didn't even know how to dream let alone how to turn anything into reality. When society 'helps' it makes so many decisions for families that there can be little room for the imagination and creative thinking. The aim of 'Wildfire' groups became to run courses for young women to ask the question, 'what is creativity for you? ' and 'what is success for you'?. These questions and many others enabled us to open the door to what was going on for the youth of the time and what they would like to explore.
Courses were led by a psychotherapist, arts therapist or social worker and creative practitioners including myself. Weekly get togethers involved the girls finding a series of 'creative adventures' that they could experience. The results were surprising and unique to each group. Trips out involved a wide variety of experiences from climbing walls, to Four star Hotel Spas to job placement seminars. We explored personal presentation, colour workshops, painting, relationships, mask work, movement and dance. Dance workshops evolved to a dance presentation at Cardiff City Hall which was a momentous achievement for all concerned. Events like this boosted confidence, practical abilities and communications skills whilst giving the girls an opportunity to try out their skills to see where they could take them. Eventually, due to popular demand the courses expanded to work with mature women and into the South Wales valleys. However due to family illness I eventually returned to Devon and Wildfire disbanded.