A Foundation grant of £4,800 was made to Doncaster Community Arts (known as DARTS for short). This was used to buy specialist equipment and musical instruments for use by young people with different abilities. Sophy Sylvester, the Arts Development Manager at DARTS said: “The fact that the equipment is so perfectly designed to be fit-for-purpose for the participants means that there is increased choice and thus independence in making that choice. There are plenty of instruments and props to go round so everyone has equal choice and can develop new skills.”
Children and young people with disabilities have benefitted from the new equipment, through the delivery of 87 sessions between December 2014 and December 2015. The sessions we funded include:
Makaton for Babies: in six sessions led by the trained Makaton Tutor, a range of instruments and props helped a group of very young children and their families to learn new ways of communicating non-verbally. Being able to engage very young children through sensory play and instruments really added value to these sessions and increased the confidence and communication levels of the children and their families.
Heatherwood Play Club/Jiggle & Jive: Our grant enabled 24 two-hour sessions to take place after school at Heatherwood Special School. Visual artists, musicians and drama artists led the sessions, with a huge array of props, equipment and instruments to inspire and initiate creative activity. It is essential that these are fit-for-purpose, safe and different to what the school itself can provide. The physical and communication needs of these children and young people are profound and often it is only by repeating sensory activities over a period of time that we can see small or profound changes. Having unusual and inspiring instruments such as the cajon or the aquaphone, as well as tactile and visually appealing props such as squishy shapes and stretchy Lycra, which engages the children, is accessible enough to offer an immediate sense of achievement and allow independence when group members choose what they would like to explore.
The Orangery Play Clubs: 12 two-hour sessions were delivered for younger children at the charity’s community hub The Point. This after school club allowed children with a range of disabilities to access creative sessions on a regular basis. Additionally, 35 sessions were delivered during term time for older young people with disabilities, from Northridge Special School.
Holiday and Saturday Music Sessions: Six music-specific sessions were delivered at The Point. Musicians often take a theme or story as a starting point and encourage participants to bring it to life by using unusual and tactile instruments and props. Where the Wild Things Are, for example, inspires soft sounds of the sea, stretchy blue fabric shimmering as the waves, loud banging sounds for the wild rumpus and puppets as characters.
Makaton and Music: The grant enabled four two-hour pilot sessions to take place at Coppice Special School using Makaton and music to communicate, build skills and build confidence and independence.
Additionally, the instruments and equipment have been used by able-bodied groups accessing DARTS activities and will be continued to be used as resources for the sessions.
Sophy said: “I can’t tell you how happy this grant has made us! It can be so difficult to find money for capital equipment such as this and as you have seen it has hugely enhanced the work we are doing with children and young people with a disability”.