Meet Little Green Pig - a small charity that's making a big difference... literally!
Knowing how much focus the city puts on those wanting to create and express themselves, especially through the arts, I knew I wouldn’t have to go far to find a charity like Little Green Pig, whose mission it is to help children ‘get fired up and inspired about writing’, as their website puts it. Unlike similar clubs for children, they don’t operate out of the same building, but instead take advantage of various venues across the city, with the vision to inspire children to express themselves creatively and inventively through writing and drawing.
Some past impressive project has included a tour of the city by children, for children, a podcast on Brighton’s homeless crisis and a crime drama, which was then performed at Brighton Fridge. Although the clubs are free, spaces are limited and so places are prioritised according to need and locality, often focusing in areas of the highest deprivation with children facing challenging circumstances. They run three after school clubs across the city and an impressive range of workshops and events.
The idea of the charity was actually started in America by a writer called Dave Eggers back in 2002. Now, some eighteen years later, there are three chapters here in the UK – and Little Green Pig in Brighton is one of them.
Abigail Allt, the charities Development and Partnerships manager, tells me delightedly that she and the parents can see the benefits in the children once they have joined - and it doesn't feel like rocket science to know that creativity is great for kids.
The importance of a growing mind
I was interested to understand from a psychological perspective what makes a scheme like this, so positive for children. Psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, Alice Statham, talked to me about why she thought such a scheme would be beneficial for children. And it's all to do with language, apparently.
As surprising as it may seem, given how incredibly vocal and seemingly chatty the Brighton seagulls are, the expression of creativity through the use of language is completely unique to humans. Language in the form of abstract words, either written or spoken, to convey vast and complex meanings is in fact considered to be the main reason humans evolved as much intelligence as we have. Since, by being able to communicate in a sophisticated way and convey abstract ideas, so many new worlds opened up for people.
Speaking to Alice, she explained to me not only how important language is to us, but also how using it creatively, particularly from a young age, helps children to understand better in all areas of their lives:
"Because language is the means by which we make sense of the world, since even in our thoughts, we think in words as well as pictures, the better a child's grasp of language, the better they will be able to understand and therefore learn. Language is not just one of those subjects everyone has to study in school, it is far more than that because we use it for every subject and in fact, everything in life is communicated through language. By encouraging children to use written language to express themselves creatively, emotionally or in any way they feel free, this type of activity, if practiced regularly, can improve children's imagination and cognition which in turn helps with problem-solving skills and, by improving communication, can help with relationships too. As well as that, using writing as an outlet for feelings or expression is known to reduce stress, as it acts as a form of catharcism."
It seems then that we should all take a bit more time to pick up a pen and paper and write something down – a story, a thought, an idea – whatever springs to mind.
Want to know more about Little Green Pig? click here