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The January Challenge blog series – Liam O’Dell

In The January Challenge blog series – we meet people who have submitted challenges, and hear why they are looking forward to getting creative in January. 

The January challenge is 31 days of creative challenges for each day of the month. All of the challenges are set by YOU! You can sign up here

By Liam O’Dell

I have to be creative at all times. It’s a state of mind perfect for someone like me who always has to be busy in some way, shape or form. When my thoughts are racing around my brain, writing and filming social media content is my way of getting them out into the real world. In my case, ‘everyday creativity’ relates to a routine – the same procedure every day which sees me put pen to paper, finger to keyboard, and get my ideas down somewhere. It means finding a space to create freely, without constraint.

For those who haven’t read my ramblings before, welcome! My name is Liam O’Dell, I’m 23, and I’m a mildly deaf freelance journalist and campaigner from Bedfordshire. I’m often found online talking about disability and politics on the deaf news website The Limping Chicken, or discussing accessibility on social media.

Creativity and wellbeing

In these bizarre and uncertain times, the need for art to get us through tough periods cannot be overstated. Online theatre shows have kept us entertained, Zoom quizzes have tested our grey matter, and streaming services have provided us with a lifeline with a range of bingeworthy series on offer. When we’re thinking and worrying about so much at the moment – and rightfully so – creativity offers us an important and much-needed distraction, with many psychological benefits.

There’s evidence to back it up, too. Earlier this year, 30,000 people took part in the January Challenge – that’s 31 days of creative tasks, every day, for a month – with over 98% saying they saw a positive impact on their wellbeing as a result of their participation. It’s why I’m thrilled to submit an idea to be considered for next year’s challenge.

My challenge!

Given my background in disability, political reporting and more, I did wonder if there was a way in which I could channel that in my suggestion. I was immediately drawn to #WhereIsTheInterpreter, the ongoing campaign by deaf activists for the UK Government to provide an in-person British Sign Language interpreter for their televised briefings. It seems, at the moment, every politician wants to do press conferences and statements at every available opportunity, and I thought that’s where I could make things a lot more interesting and creative.

So my idea, submitted to fellow disability campaigner Jess Thom, explores this phenomenon in a little more detail:

 

You’ve been informed that alien life is out there and you have to think of an imaginative way of breaking the news to the world in a way which doesn’t cause them to panic. How would you do it? What would you say/do?

 

Thinking about it again now, it’s pretty much speaks to me and my background in campaigning and journalism, which require things to be as straightforward and understandable as possible, but also allow for a bit of creative flair. Note that I didn’t say it has to be a written statement – statement delivered in the form of interpretive dance, anyone?

If you fancy joining in on the fun, you have until 9 November to submit your own idea, and you can sign up online to join in on the challenge now!