The Art Room, a new weekly drop-in art session for young people aged 16-24 years, is starting on Tuesdays afternoons from 2-4pm at Te Ara Korowai in Raumati Beach.

The free sessions are aimed at youth who are not in mainstream education, who may be dealing with mental distress or isolation and would like to come and learn a range of art techniques using an array of mediums to create their own art work in a relaxed space.

"There are a whole lot of youth who slip through the cracks of mainstream education," says Angelique Monaghan, who will run the sessions.

Angelique has been a practising artist for more than 23 years and has facilitated an array of art workshops for youth and adults.

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She is passionate about providing a space where young people can come and create the art they want, in a relaxed place.

Reflection, an acrylic work by Angelique Monaghan, who will be running the drop-in sessions.
Reflection, an acrylic work by Angelique Monaghan, who will be running the drop-in sessions.

For Angelique, art was what helped her get through the tough teenage and young adult years.

Now with two teenagers of her own, Angelique sees how useful art can be to help process thoughts, feelings and emotions.

"It's a great way to express what's going on in your head and get it all out."

The drop-in sessions have been designed for all young people including those struggling with mental illnesses, especially anxiety.

Starting at 2pm so as not to exclude those who struggle to sleep at night, Te Ara Korowai co-ordinator Wendy Madsen says organisers have made it accessible as possible.

"Once teenagers leave school and aren't in education or work, where do they go if they don't fit in the mainstream schools?

"Anxiety can be the reason people aren't at school or the reason why they can't sleep at night, so this is set at a time they can make it.

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"For some of them it might take a lot of courage to come such as those with social anxiety or depression.

"That's why we've made it a drop-in session so people can come in whenever and stay for as long as they want.

"It will be very chill, there will be no formal structure because they're not in school, they don't want school.

"It's an open place where they can come in and explore what they want.

"We have smaller rooms where people can go and chill out too."

Anyone with an interest in art is welcome, no experience needed.

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"One thing that often holds people back is thinking they need to be good at it," Angelique said.

"This is not the case as there are so many different types of art to express through.

"It's something the youth can go away from feeling good.

"If you don't fit into the traditional education system you can be seen as a drop out with no potential. This is about giving the youth a place to come and find their value.

"Everyone has their strengths and it's about finding them and expressing themselves."

The sessions are lightly funded by a creative communities grant from the council, with Angelique and Wendy putting in many extra hours to make these sessions and other ones that Te Ara Korowai offer possible.

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"This is something we're very passionate about and it's a very important place for a lot of people."

The Art Room will be held at Te Ara Korowai, Wellbeing Hub 8 Weka Rd, Raumati Beach, every Tuesday from 2-4pm.

Contact Angelique Monaghan for further details or to register interest on 027 484 6481 or Angelique.monaghan@gmail.com.

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