Participants’ perspectives on the social bonding and wellbeing effects of creative arts adult education classes
Background: Evidence suggests that adult education classes have a positive impact on wellbeing, but whether this is true for all course activities is unknown. Methods: A UK adult education charity ran four singing classes, two craft classes and a creative writing class for the purpose of this study. Written responses to open questions about health, wellbeing and social lives were collected from participants at the end of the 7-month courses. Results: The classes enhanced wellbeing by improving mood and providing a sense of belonging. The classes helped participants develop self-confidence, create and strengthen relationships, and encouraged more active lives. Participants valued meeting people from their community and used these ties to access information about local opportunities. However, some participants reported negative experiences linked to unfavourable self-other comparison. Conclusions: These results highlight how regular adult education classes involving creativity can enhance wellbeing and help community integration regardless of the subject studied.