Tending the POD
Margaret Lockhart couldn’t be happier. As the Mental Health Foundation’s project lead
for POD, one of the Like Minds,
Like Mine programme’s new community projects, she is flat-tack organising workshops and
mentors, checking in with the first five PODders (as they are nicknamed) and assessing
applications for the next POD incubator.
With a background in occupational therapy, as well as experience running creative mental
health projects for Changing Minds, POD (which stands for Point of Difference) combines
three of Margaret’s interests – creativity and art; mental health promotion; and working
with young people.
“It is my perfect match,” Margaret says. “The creative arts are an awesome avenue for
young people to communicate their experiences of mental distress and the importance of
“If you are presented with facts, your eyes tend to glaze over, but if ideas and messages
are wrapped around something more creative, people engage and understand those ideas on
a deeper level.”
Peas in the POD
POD is running the first two incubators concurrently, with five projects in each. The
PODders participate in a series of weekend workshops, are assigned a mentor (who checks
in with them once a fortnight) and work towards completing their project within six
The first enterprising bunch have also established a Facebook group where they check in
with each other once a week for motivation and positive feedback.
“As a group they are really supportive of each other,” Margaret says. “When we got
together for the second workshop, it was awesome to see how their weekly connection has
helped them forge a lovely bond and how excited they were to be bouncing ideas off each
Projects in the first incubator have come from talented young Pakeha, Chinese, Indian,
and Pasifika women and include:
- an event that uses the Brazilian martial art Capoeira as a model for social
- spoken word poetry – one piece has already received third place in the 2016 Auckland
University Poetry Slam.
- an anthology of short stories, which portray experiences of mental health distress.
- exploring how music impacts wellbeing and mental health.
- a social media campaign celebrating family and friends who support young people
experiencing mental distress.
From creativity to electricity
Margaret says it’s been fabulous how willing people are to support the PODders.
“Our workshop speakers and mentors are all interested in encouraging the development of
young people wanting to make social change,” she says. “They are skilled in their area
of expertise and have been generous with their time and knowledge.”
For all involved it is about mental wellbeing and knowing that you are nurturing projects
with the potential to positively impact Kiwi youth.
“Our PODders want other young people to engage with their projects,” Margaret says. “And
to realise they are not on their own; that there are safe places to talk about any
mental distress they may be feeling without fear of discrimination or exclusion.”
Margaret was explaining POD to a friend who came up with a brilliant one-liner that she
plans to use in future. “She said POD was “Art to generate social electricity” – an