CashBack for Creativity: How rap music helped Sam Cameron's rehabilitation following a brain injury

In April 2016, 18-year-old Sam Cameron was involved in a serious road accident. Sam sustained a serious brain injury, and was in a coma for two months.

During his rehabilitation, Sam had to learn to walk and talk again. He attended the Quarriers Head Injury Service, where he expressed an interest in music and poetry. He was referred to Quarriers' Oh Yellow Music project, which is funded by CashBack for Creativity.

From poetry to rap (via Bob Marley)

For Sam, this meant he was able to meet up with singer/songwriter Rosie Bans for music tuition once a week, and he’s recorded some of his original music at Carlton Studios in Glasgow.

'I've just recently started writing rap,” Sam says. “I started off writing poetry and then I moved on to rap. In my time recovering I was in a lot of different types of rehabilitation. While recovering, I had go listen to some sort of music to keep me going and keep me motivated. After I got out of rehabilitation, I started writing music.

“It was poetry I started with, then I moved on to writing rap. I'd say my inspiration would be Bob Marley.”

In my opinion, I think it should be a human right that everybody has access to the arts- Rosie Bans, Musician and Tutor

Sam says that writing music has helped him to express himself and tell his own story. "Every single thing I write is always explaining a bit of my own journey," he explains.

Oh Yellow helps people under 25 to use music and music production to explore new opportunities and personal development. Funded by CashBack, this three-year programme provides access to quality music making experiences for vulnerable young people in Glasgow. The workshop involve facilitated practise, access to specialist tutors, and professional studio time.

Using music as a catalyst, the project provides young people with the tools they need to express themselves, manage their behaviour, and maintain good mental health. Additionally, through links with the music industry and further education, the project can provide qualifications and meaningful progression opportunities for participants.

Musician and teacher Rosie Bans tutors Sam through Oh Yellow. She says her approach is always student-led, and is designed to help her students get the most from their lessons.

“I think music tuition and access to music has to be available to everybody,” she says, “and that's what this service allows.I think that’s why its so important. It shouldn’t be something that’s only there for the privileged, or people from a certain part of society.

“In my opinion, I think it should be a human right that everybody has access to the arts."

'It's really helped with his rehabilitation'

Sam's mum Lyndsay says that the Oh Yellow project has been “absolutely fantastic for Sam and the rest of the family".

“When he first started writing poetry and rapping, I didn’t think he’d have anywhere to go with it,” she explains.

“Then someone referred him on here, and it's snowballed from there. He’s had such a great time, and it's really helped with his rehabilitation and his confidence.”

Supporting a range of young people

The Oh Yellow project supports a range of vulnerable young people to experience music. Quarriers’ Patrick Monaghan explains that the project originally came about through a young person that the charity was  supporting who had experienced addiction.

“We worked with this individual through the Homeless World Cup initially,” he says. “As she started working with my former colleague Natalie, to build a strategy to move on and stay free from addiction, she highlighted how important music was to her recovery, and her continuing recovery.

“She felt this should be open to everybody. Prior to this, I used to do some guitar lessons on my own. But this gave us the opportunity to go out and around the youth homeless services and ask - ‘would you want a service like this?’ And we had a resounding yes.

“We applied to Creative Scotland for the money and we were very lucky to get it. Now, for just over a year, we’ve been running lots of different things, from fashion shows to one-to-one music sessions.”

Patrick says that Sam is an inspiration to him.  “I’ve known Sam for just over a year,” Patrick explains. “From the moment I met Sam, I've got to say that he was an inspiration to me - because of his courage and wanting to get out and do things himself, but also he wanted to spread the message for his own situation that he was in.

Using music to tell his story

“He felt that, for a young person who'd suffered a head injury in Scotland, there wasn't very much out there to help him with his rehabilitation, or any real after care.

“He wanted to put all this into rap music and tell his story, and try and make a difference by speaking about his experience.

“He’s used music to do that - and very well I'd like to say.”

Oh Yellow has been funded by CashBack for Creativity. CashBack for Creativity is a programme funded by the Scottish Government's CashBack for Communities programme. It offers young people (10 - 24 years) across Scotland the opportunity to engage in creative and cultural activity.

It provides high quality learning and developmental activities across all art forms which improve the skills and confidence of young people, raise attainment and aspirations, and provide pathways for further learning, training, education and employment.

This article was published on 13 Dec 2018