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Kendal pupils with a range of abilities and disabilities build shared understanding through art

Kendal mayor Andy Blackman with Sandgate and Queen Katherine School pupils

[T]his week pupils with a range of abilities and disabilities from two Kendal schools are coming together to participate in an award-winning visual art and animation programme delivered by Create, the UK’s leading charity empowering lives through the creative arts.

Part of Create’s national creative:connection programme, the project is enabling pupils from The Queen Katherine School and Sandgate Special School, to work collaboratively, build trusting relationships with each other and develop their creativity, social skills and confidence. The pupils are working with Create’s professional artist Daniel Lehan and filmmaker Aoife Twomey to design and create life-size characters, which they will then bring to life in stop-motion animations around the theme of ‘Feathers and Flight’.

Working together in the complementary art forms of visual art and animation is giving the young people from both schools the opportunity to develop a broad range of creative and technical skills, and encourage them to feel pride in their creations.

The young people’s creations will be showcased in a final presentation to an audience of staff and students from both schools. This opportunity to share their creative work will boost their self-esteem and strengthen the supportive relationships developed through the programme.

In a survey carried out by Scope and Mumsnet in 2014, four in 10 parents of children with disabilities reported that their child ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ has the opportunity to socialise with children without disabilities. Scope also found that two-thirds of the British public feel uncomfortable when talking to people with disabilities, and that people with disabilities themselves think more interactions between children with and without disabilities would bring about improved attitudes towards people with disabilities.

creative:connection encourages the development of positive attitudes among young people through the experience of collaborative expression, enabling children with a range of abilities and disabilities to come together to make art. By bringing them together, the stereotypes, misconceptions and anxieties that reinforce social barriers can be broken down. Last month, Create won the prestigious Arts, Culture and Heritage Award at the Charity Awards for creative:connection. The judges said: “the creative:connection project was particularly strong because it cut across boundaries rather than operating in silos, and offered something for everyone involved”.

Create’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, said: “The opportunities in place for young people from mainstream and special schools to come together can be infrequent. creative:connection works hard to change this. As well as the confidence and creativity that young people gain from working collaboratively in the workshops, the shared understanding that they develop can be carried with them through to adulthood, helping to shape a more caring and inclusive society. I can’t wait to meet the pupils taking part in the project in Kendal and see their creations.”

Deputy Head teacher at Sandgate School Rib Williams said: “We look forward to Create’s projects every year. The power of working with students from another school on a project is hugely beneficial in terms of developing social skills and understanding another person’s point of view. The chance to work with talented artists and create art works in different forms is also really valuable. So often in schools, we are asked to show academic progress, but a project like this develops a young person’s skills and talents in another varied, real life dimension. creative:connection also helps to build on and strengthen the already strong bonds we have with QKS students and staff.”

creative:connection runs from 10- 14 July. The sharing takes place on the afternoon of 14 July.

Funders: Anonymous donor, The Granada Foundation, The Hadfield Trust, The Oaklea Trust’s Wishlist Fund, The Persula Foundation, Proven Family Trust, Sir John Fisher Foundation.

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