When Physical Distancing becomes the new normal, social connection becomes more important than ever.
When the Coronavirus Pandemic hit the UK, only a few weeks ago, we immediately knew the impact on AMP, our performing arts academy that runs at The Warehouse, our Hillsong Bermondsey Location, would be seismic.
What would a nationwide lockdown mean for us and more importantly for our 170 something students?
Would it mean they couldn’t gather together every Saturday at the Warehouse anymore? Wouldn’t be able to work on their skills in Dance, Act, Vocals and Drums, build community and empower each other to grow into their full potential?
We knew that wasn’t an option.
The impact the lockdown has had on students across the UK so far is yet to be determined, but even the Health Minister has mentioned in several appearances at the daily government press conferences that the impact on the mental health of all impacted by this lock down and young people – especially vulnerable young people – in particular, would be significant. So, finding ways for our young people to stay connected and active would be crucial for them to make it through this season as well as physically possible.
Our AMP team put their heads together and started thinking about what AMP ONLINE could look like. What staying connected would mean for our students throughout this very strange season.
We’ll be honest, the first couple of attempts didn’t work quite as planned.
Whilst our amazing teachers put in their best efforts to create video content, the technical hurdles of getting tutorials for the 22 classes we usually run across a Saturday, with 3 of them being 3 hours long and usually being covered by multiple coaches edited and uploaded within a few days proved a little more complicated than we initially anticipated.
But we weren’t about to give up.
The first Saturday of Lockdown ended up being a fun day of various Instagram Live sessions run by our amazing teachers – who all agreed to providing that content entirely free.
Plan B for AMP Online came into effect a week later. Our team did their research and came to the conclusion that one particular video conferencing tool would be best suited to run our classes – not only would our teachers be able to run sessions, but the tool would actually allow our students to interactively engage with the class.
We planned, had video conference calls with our team and prepared for our first week of AMP ONLINE on Saturday, 28th March.
We called all of our parents and students, told them of our idea and inquired of them whether or not they would choose to continue to attend our classes, even in this season of uncertainty.
The response was overwhelming.
From parents telling us how grateful they were that we weren’t giving up on their kids, to those expressing their appreciation and love for AMP in general and telling us that they would stick with us come what may because they wanted not only their kids to continue taking classes but also wanted to support our teachers and the school at large as we navigate this season.
We are eternally grateful for the amazing community that has formed over the last few years.
The first round of AMP Online classes ended up being a huge success. Despite a few technical glitches here and there (let’s be honest, who’s internet connection has been entirely stable over these last few weeks, seeing that the majority of the UK population are stuck at home watching Netflix!) the classes went incredibly well. Attendance was amazing, students all told us how much they enjoyed being a part of our community and how much they wanted it all to continue.
Whilst we don’t know what the next few months hold, we know for a fact that AMP will be back after the Easter holidays – whether in real life at the Warehouse or online.
Our teachers and team are committed to our students and will work hard to create engaging and inspiring content for our last term. And who knows, we might all be back together at the Warehouse in time for our Summer Showcase!
If you want to support the work we do with AMP and enable us to continue to run AMP Online classes, even when student fees might start dropping out due to peoples personal circumstances, you can donate to AMP HERE.
Follow us on social media to stay up to date with all we’re doing and tune in to some IG live fun over the Easter break and beyond.