Two local mums have come together to help youngsters survive the modern pressures of growing-up in the digital age – through song and dance.
Ruddington’s Stacey Green and Laura Grant have been friends since they were teenagers – meeting when they were just while learning to sing, dance and act at the TV Workshop in Nottingham.
“Between us we have three daughters and two sons, and we’ve seen what they face with the acceleration of social media and selfie culture,” said Stacey.
“Anxieties, disorders, bullying and depression are becoming the norm as they and their friends spend hours online on apps like Instagram and Snapchat.”
Laura, a professional fundraiser who has worked to support charities in fields ranging from cancer support to preventing domestic violence, said: “We can’t shelter them from it but we can prepare them to take it in their stride.
“We’ve launched the Freedom Factory which will provide training for children and young people in all aspects of the music industry both as a singer/songwriter and dancer in their familiar school environment.”
Stacey, who runs Freedom Dance & Performance in Ruddington, has had international success for both herself and her students.
Among them X Factor runner-up Marcus Collins and a number of current performers in the West End, but over the last few years Stacey has noticed an alarming trend in the children she now supports.
Stacey said: “Life for them has changed. Social media is an influence unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
“Its left youngsters concerned about body image, wanting to be accepted, yearning to be liked and led to online bullying from sometimes faceless trolls.”
Freedom Factory is already aligned with six junior schools and five senior schools across Nottinghamshire with plans to expand throughout the East Midlands and further.
From September, the 90-minute junior factories and three-hour senior factories will provide a chance for children to explore the entertainment industry, develop their individuality and talents and build confidence. Pilot sessions will take place during June and July.
Through the training of teachers and assistants and having a mentor programme for the children and young people it will encourage them to talk about challenges and issues they face and explore them through music and dance.
Freedom Factory will provide them with an environment where they feel comfortable to share, a place where they feel accepted and confident enough to try new things surrounded by creative like-minded people, regardless of gender, ethnicity or background.