Ariel Drama Academy puts em­pha­sis on sup­port­ing men­tal health as it plans its re­open­ing

West Sussex County Times - - The Guide -

Men­tal health will be tak­ing a front-row seat for Ariel’s re­launch.

Ariel Drama Academy, which teaches drama, singing and dance to more than 1,000 stu­dents across Sus­sex, has been ac­tive over the past 15 weeks, pro­vid­ing its stu­dents with free on­line dig­i­tal lessons.

The acad­e­mies, which have lo­ca­tions in Burgess Hill, Craw­ley, East Grin­stead, Hay­wards Heath, Hor­sham and Steyn­ing have been busy from the very first lock­down week­end.

Nicci Hop­son, Ariel artis­tic di­rec­tor, said: “In prepa­ra­tion for Ariel’s re­launch on Au­gust 29, our tu­tors are com­plet­ing a gov­ern­ment psy­cho­log­i­cal first aid course that will de­velop their un­der­stand­ing of how emer­gen­cies like the coro­n­avirus pan­demic can af­fect us all.

“They will un­der­stand how to recog­nise stu­dents who may be at in­creased risk of dis­tress and be able to of­fer prac­ti­cal and emo­tional sup­port.

“This will be along­side Ariel’s cre­ative and fun lessons that build con­fi­dence and help stu­dents grow and en­able us to deal with the ever-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment in which we live.

“Ariel has more than 300 stu­dents with varying ad­di­tional needs and this train­ing will help our tu­tors to have a fur­ther un­der­stand­ing of any fears or anx­i­eties our stu­dents may have, en­abling them to help com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively as we all start to ad­just to a new nor­mal.

“At Ariel, sup­port­ing each other’s men­tal health and well­be­ing is more im­por­tant than ever dur­ing th­ese chal­leng­ing and un­cer­tain times.

“The on­line lessons have been so well re­ceived from the stu­dents.”

Nicci added: “The lessons have re­ally helped in so many ways.

“They pro­vide a sense of nor­mal­ity, rou­tine and of course keep them be­ing cre­ative.

“I can­not thank my staff and par­ents enough for all their con­tin­ued sup­port of us all at Ariel. It has been such a dif­fi­cult time, with the­atre clo­sures and our the­atri­cal cos­tume hire tem­po­rar­ily clos­ing, but this has al­lowed us the time to re­ally fo­cus on the on­line con­tent.

“Not only have we been busy de­vis­ing dig­i­tal lessons and giv­ing in­di­vid­ual, per­sonal feed­back to ev­ery stu­dent, we have been lucky enough to bring in West End stars to do live Q&A’s to our com­mu­nity of nearly 3,000 fol­low­ers.

“So far we have had Harry Mor­ri­son from West End smash Come From Away and Tim Ma­hen­dran from & Juliet and lined up over the sum­mer we have Jo Grif­fith Brown from Hamil­ton and Wicked’s Laura Pick, cur­rently El­phaba.

“Our tu­tors have been work­ing tire­lessly to pro­vide th­ese cre­ative lessons to sup­port and be a crit­i­cal touch point of nor­mal­ity at this re­ally un­usual time.

“But we feel we are near­ing the end of this phase and Ariel hopes to re­launch on Au­gust 29. We will be hav­ing free tri­als for the whole of Septem­ber so we can en­gage with as many stu­dents as pos­si­ble.”

Find more de­tails about the op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead by vis­it­ing the web­site www. or call 01444 250407 to book a space.

Abi­gail Paige, Craw­ley academy prin­ci­pal, teach­ing a dig­i­tal singing les­son

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