Telling tales and painting pictures: Using creative and innovative methods in research with care experienced young people

Year: 2019

Author: Quarmby, Thomas, Hooper, Oliver, Sandford, Rachel, Duncombe, Rebecca

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The literature to date has failed to provide an opportunity for the stories of care experienced young people (CEYP) to be heard, especially with regard to their perspectives on sport/physical activity (PA), and so our understanding of their experiences is limited (Quarmby et al., 2018). The Right to be Active (R2BA) project sought to address this ‘gap’ by utilising a narrative analysis and a storytelling approach to represent the voices of CEYP.

The R2BA project drew broadly on a particular form of creative analytical practice (Richardson, 2000) known as creative non-fiction, whereby the stories generated were fictional in form but factual in content; grounded in real events and lived experiences. This paper will present the voices of four care-leavers (all aged over 18 and who had spent some time in care during their younger years) in the form of creative non-fiction portraits. The stories that are presented highlight the successes and challenges these four care-leavers have encountered with regard sport/PA, the meaning it plays in their daily lives and, importantly, what lessons might be learnt from their stories. The stories they tell will also be demonstrated by means of concept cartoons which represent composite creative non-fiction vignettes. Concept cartoons are a creative and innovative method, initially utilised by Hooper (2018) who adapted the idea from a pedagogical tool originally intended to support young people in learning about complex/abstract concepts. As part of the R2BA project, concept cartoons were developed based on the data generated with/by CEYP during the focus groups and interviews. These cartoons sought to represent CEYP’s varied perspectives on/experiences of sport/PA and were shared with participants (by means of repeat focus groups) in an attempt to ensure that CEYP felt that the cartoons accurately represented their views. Within the study, the use of concept cartoons was expanded beyond a data-generation tool, in that they were also used as a means of disseminating findings and representing/sharing the CEYP’s perspectives on/experiences of sport/PA with other CEYP (as well as adult stakeholders, including teachers and social workers) - highlighting their pedagogical potential. The findings from the R2BA study emphasise the value of adopting creative and innovative approaches to data generation and representation with CEYP within the field of sport/physical activity (and more broadly).