ISER research inspiration for Edinburgh fringe show on children’s happiness

In response to reports from UNICEF and The Children’s Society that raise concerns over young people’s well-being, The Happiness Project uses autobiographical stories to create a moving, personal piece of theatre that will interrogate one of the oldest questions – what is happiness and how do you get it?

Dr Gundi Knies is one of the academics involved in a Roundhouse theatre production which features at this year’s Fringe Festival. The show brings together a company of young artists aged 12-19 and six scientists and academics to create a piece of contemporary theatre.

Gundi’s research about how children’s happiness is not linked to income, analyses Understanding Society data to reveal social scientists findings about what makes young people happy. Her study, Life Satisfaction and Material Wellbeing on Children in the UK, received widespread media coverage when it was published in 2013, leading to an invitation for Gundi to participate in the project. The study found that:

  • Children with strong friendships, who play sport regularly and have daily access to the internet, had higher levels of happiness than those who did not.

  • Happy children also tended to have their own bedroom, a bike or other leisure equipment.

  • Children who have friends over for tea once a fortnight and those who go swimming once a month were also happier with their lives than those who did not. A sense of belonging was clearly an important influence on levels of life satisfaction.

  • The children with lots of friends reported higher levels of happiness than those without and children with a religion were also more likely to be happier with their lives.

Performances will take place at the Roundhouse from 3-14 November 2015, following a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 26-30 August

Follow the conversation on Twitter using #happinessproject


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