Join us to take part in a series of creative challenges to help boost your wellbeing.

Published Tuesday, 11th January, 2022 in University news

This year, City has pledged to take part in The January Challenge, a 31-day creativity and wellbeing campaign by the social enterprise, 64 Million Artists.

The January Challenge is designed to inspire an act of creativity every day, to hopefully kickstart new conversations and adventures, and a creative year ahead. When we harness our creativity, we can make positive changes in our lives and the world around us.

The challenges are all easy to follow – ranging from abstract drawing to vision boards, connecting with nature, and random acts of kindness. Each challenge is based on one of three themes: We are Human, We are Culture and We are Connected, and all of the ideas have come from people around the country. From young people to residents in care homes – makers, activists, performers, writers, musicians, chefs and more.

You can take part in a new challenge every day throughout January, or just dip in and take part in one or a few that particularly appeal to you – it’s up to you. Sign up online to receive a daily challenge sent to your inbox, or join on social with #CityJanChallenge where we will highlight some challenges for the City community to take together.

We know that as students, you have a full and busy schedule. With that in mind, here are some challenges we have picked out that can be done in under an hour.

We are Human

Explore the senses, the natural world and what makes us human. This theme is about the wonder of humanity and the different ways we all experience and interpret the world around us. Choose this theme if you want to immerse yourself in a ‘sense of wonder’ at what it means to be a human on planet Earth.

1. One line self-portrait

Create a self-portrait in one line using a pen, paint, string or anything else you can find.

2. Map your mind

Find a pen and a piece of paper. Set a timer for 5 minutes and sit in a quiet place. When you notice a thought, make a note of it; capture everything you can. When your times up, see if you can connect or ‘map’ any of your thoughts.

3. Nature Investigators

Head outside, inhale for 5 and exhale for 5. What can you see, feel or hear?

4. Biro Dreams

Choose an object to create a very quick sketch of and choose colours that completely contract with your chosen object (e.g. a blue banana, purple cat, green orange, etc).

5. Into Another World

Get comfy, and line up your favourite song. Use every second to experience it fully. Perhaps you close your eyes or move or dance.

We are Culture

Explore our identities, cultures and communities. Who are you? What makes you, you? How do you express who you are? Why do you express who you are? This theme is about the many layers of you, and the ways you connect with the people, places and communities around you.

1. Why I Love

Think of a place that is important to you and set a timer for 5 minutes. Now, finish the sentence ‘Why I love…’ with all the things you love about this place.

2. Vision Board

Create a vision board for 2022! Put down your hopes, dreams, whatever it is you want to achieve and get it on paper. Use colour, words, collage, whatever inspires you. Bring your vision to life, and make it come true!

3. Languages of Love

Write the word ‘LOVE’ in different languages. Create a collage or word cloud showcasing your findings. You can ask people in your community and create a video of different people saying the word in their languages. Don’t overthink this; keep it simple. Give love back to your community and share your findings!

4. Art Review

Find a piece of art (in a local gallery, on google images, or in the space around you) and set a timer for 5 minutes. Write down everything that grabbed you about the image. Beauty is only one of many criteria when selecting an image: your choice may attract you because of the loud colours, textures or shapes, but repel you on account of what is represented.

5. Word Portrait

Create a portrait of yourself using any words that are meaningful to you. Use the words to depict the shapes of your face, and choose which words you’d like to put where.

We are Connected

Explore what happens when we create together. We can create a connection across oceans, mountains and continents. What does connection mean to you? Is it making new friends, or being part of a team? Or is it the way we connect – online, digitally, WhatsApp, letter, a shared experience? Choose this theme if you want to use creativity to connect with other people.

1. Connect and Create

What does the word ‘Connected’ mean to you? Find a small piece of paper, post-it or the back of an envelope. Use it to capture the images, stories or memories that you associate with the word ‘connected’. It might capture your connection to a friend, nature, a hobby, memory … anything goes.

2. Dancing Shoes

Put on your dancing shoes and dance! Choose your music and let it inspire your movements. You could create a new dance routine or just move to the music.

3. Nature is Everywhere

Move to a place where you can see or feel the outside world and find something to these 7 statements. Your answers might be things that you can see, hear, taste, smell or touch:

  • Something soft
  • Something beautiful
  • Something spiky
  • Something human-made
  • Something that rustles
  • Something not green
  • Something with a strong smell.

4. Starter for 10

Choose a book you have around and turn to page 10. Take the first sentence from the page, this is the first sentence of your short story. For 5 minutes, continue to write the rest of your story. Keep going if you have more to write. Then, cross out the sentence you started from. Your story is complete!

5. Reach Out

Reach out to somebody you’ve not spoken to in a while. Perhaps you’ve lost touch, perhaps you’ve had a disagreement, or perhaps you’ve been meaning to have a conversation and never quite found the time. Now’s the time; use it however you like.

If you feel like doing more, here is the full list of challenges.