Georgina (R) enjoying a socially distant walk with Halszka

Our Artful Dodgers Studios offers a space where young people can explore their creativity, find community, and have some respite from challenges they are sometimes confronting. These can include mental illness and social isolation.

For some of our participants, coming into the studios can be one of the key points of social contact in their week. When a COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne led to restrictions on social contact, the Artful Dodgers team was faced with the challenge of continuing to provide the supports their participants relied upon, in a safe and socially distant manner.

With restrictions allowing for one-to-one contact, the team began meeting up with participants for socially distant walks.

For Artful Dodgers participant Georgina, her walks with Artful Dodgers’ Community Cultural Development Worker, Halszka Masash, have offered a much-needed break from life in her high-rise apartment. Halszka and the other members of the Artful Dodgers team also facilitate Zoom catch-ups with Georgina and other participants a number of times a week to further reduce feelings of social isolation.

Georgina says the walks have allowed her to “relax and be myself. Being able to go outside and talk about whatever comes to mind, things that are bothering me or random things that happened throughout the week, is a lot better than being alone most of the time.

“I know that I can talk to my friends through Zoom, but I feel like there’s more interaction being able to talk to someone in person instead of being on the computer, having constant internet connection problems.”

The walks have offered Georgina the opportunity to explore her neighbourhood and find a connection with nature that she hasn’t experienced before. “I’m learning more about my suburb. I’ve lived here for many years, but I didn’t even know about some of these areas and the amount of nature around the area!”