In 2019, a Pakistani young artist living in Sydney, Shehzar Abro, approached GEM’s Founding Director, Angé Weinrabe, to discuss the stressful conditions his peers were undergoing (this was pre-Covid), in Karachi Pakistan. These conditions included the dire socio-political situation whereby very few young people had access to arts and wellbeing education, never mind mental health support in his densely populated city of Karachi. Angé and Shehzar approached the Chair of Global Outreach of Karachi Biennale Trust, Atteqa Malik, to identify their interest in a youth outreach program.
GEM delivered its GEMAH workshop – ‘The Art of Wellbeing’ – at the 2019 Karachi Biennale (KB19) in Pakistan. At the GEMAH-KB19 workshop, 157 young people registered and 41 young people participated, aged 18-25 years old. Coaches, artists, and musicians guided participants in using art and music skills, and our proprietary GEM Method as the wellbeing component, to work through personal challenges. In turn, this helped participants learn more about how to regulate their emotions and embrace their self-expressed creativity.
Upon completion of the workshop, we moved to the next phase of GEMAH-KB19. Here, GEM continued its support of this young artistic community in Karachi by offering 3 free 1-hour GEM coaching sessions to interested GEMAH-KB19 participants in January to February 2020. During Phase 2, 17 participants registered to seek support for any life challenges that emerged during the workshop through coaching, as well as work on specific areas of their lives for which they needed ongoing psychosocial support.
From March 2020 onwards, GEM continued to further support the youth artistic community in Karachi, Pakistan, and nationally by helping them stay inspired, encouraged, psychosocially supported, and focused on their passion as emerging young artists during the Covid crisis. GEM ran its first Mural Art Contest (GEMMA), and began to host free weekly webinars on pressing topics for young people today, with a variety of international guest speakers on topics of health and wellbeing, art, philosophy, and social entrepreneurship. This connected the GEMAH-KB19 participants and other young people with GEM’s broader global online community.