Byron Youth Theatre (BYT) were thrilled to be up in lights for their contribution to youth mental health when they won the WayAhead, Mental Health Association of NSW, Media and The Arts award for several of their productions including Mind Made Me.
‘Being recognised by the Mental Health Association of NSW is a big deal for a small regional theatre company,’ said BYT director Lisa Apostolides.
‘All of our productions have a mental health aspect and we’ve known for a long time the positive effects it has had on youth and community audiences from our feedback forms but this is fantastic.’
WayAhead is a not-for-profit organisation that has been dedicated to promoting mental health and wellbeing for over 80 years. Out of the eight categories the Media and The Arts recognises individuals or organisations who have created thoughtful, informative and responsibly reported media and/or artistic projects relating to mental health illness.
Sahaj Blatt is one of the original cast members of Mind Made Me and is now back working with the group on their latest’s production.
‘BYT was a large part of adolescent life, It was not only fun but I learnt a lot about the different issues we covered,’ Sahaj told The Echo.
‘We performed [Mind Made Me] to well over 1,000 young people, at special events, and at an international conference. It means a lot to us to have a high profile organisation recognising what we do and I hope it gets our work to more audiences.’
This excitement was reflected by former theatre member Serren Glen who told The Echo that ‘This award is amazing and will hopefully open up new funding for the Company. BYT is like the best well intentioned family, Lisa cares very deeply for us all. Being in BYT helped me with my own mental health issues when I was younger and I love that it empowers so many young people through our performances and workshops.’
Established in 2010 and working with young people aged between 16 and 25, BYT have produced thirteen educationally based, youth governed productions (performances and workshops) on issues relating to binge drinking, drink driving, compassionate connections between generations, mental health (anxiety, depression, body image, non suicidal self harm), adolescent sexual health, illicit drug use, LGBTIAQ+youth, domestic and family violence, bullying connected to youth suicide, racism and prejudice and upstander/anti-bullying and issues of abuse.
Lisa told The Echo that receiving the award ‘will certainly help us with future funding opportunities as well as connecting us with more state, national and international organisations to further the impact of our work.’