All Aboard is a programme funded by BBC Children in Need, running over 3 years in partnership with Doncaster’s Special Schools. The basis of the programme is to work with children with disabilities and their families to offer them something new – to improve their range of choice, provide the opportunity to express themselves, and to promote independence.
An expert team of professional artists have delivered a range of creative activities including music/music technology, visual arts, photography, sculpture and poetry. Workshops are specifically designed in response to individual children’s needs and abilities. The artist get to know the children and create new ways for them to access opportunities that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
As an example of the way in which an All Aboard session can be tailored to suit individual needs, during one workshop the artist created a bespoke instrument for a young person which was adapted for him specifically. It was a pocket synthesizer which was connected to a large drum that vibrated and changed rhythm in response to the boy’s movement. The boy could manipulate the instrument, hitting it and putting his arms on it and his teeth around it. Originally staff tried to move it away from him when he did this, but the artist told him that it was okay and that he could continue. This captivated the boy and engaged him for a long time.
So far, we have discovered that the joy in the sessions comes mostly from young people taking the lead. Artists have found that whilst it was important to have a theme and a framework, the children and young people were the ones who created the content by using the materials, instruments and equipment in the way they wanted.
Over the course of the year, children’s enjoyment and willingness to get involved has increased and there have been some wonderful moments of ‘letting go’ where children were truly immersed in the creative activity.
At our holiday workshops at The Point, children are accompanied by parents/carers and sometimes siblings too, which means that there is a real sense of shared enjoyment and positive memories to take away. In one session, there was a really inter-generational feel with grandparents and younger siblings creating songs and tracks.
We will be delivering more sessions in schools and more sessions for families this year, with plenty of workshops throughout half-terms and holidays.
We will continue to offer young people more opportunities to take part and create, and to become more independent through life skills sessions, volunteering opportunities and bespoke Arts Awards qualifications. We’re passionate about offering children the chance to express themselves and to communicate in their own unique way.
For all of our upcoming family sessions, visit our What’s On page.