A story by FABB Scotland
Disabled children and young people use their imagination to create their own musical theatre, developing skills, building confidence, making friends and having fun through the mediums of music, dance and drama.
What IMAGINE did
24 young people participated in a structured 15 week musical therapy programme called IMAGINE. The programme consisted of 12 weeks of activity, 3 weeks rehearsal, culminating in a music live themed weekend and performance to carers, parents, family and friends. 48 carers benefited from 3 hrs weekly respite for 15 weeks, 50 hours weekend respite and engagement in a performance with young people.
6 enthusiastic and trained volunteers donated 600 hours of time. Where and when, Imagine Group 1 April – June 2019, Rehearsal weeks July, music live weekend end of July and School of Rock performance at Norton Park. Imagine Group 2 August -October 2019, Rehearsal weeks in November 2019, Performance in December 2019.
The activities, theme and performance were determined by the young people participating, the project ran from April 2019 until March 2020.
The project was really successful and encouraged young peoples’ imagination and creativity. It gave carers free time to explore options available to them and discover new activities and friendships outside their caring role. Music and drama programmes have been found to develop children's confidence and communication skills.
Many of the young people we work with have great difficulty in communicating and expressing their feelings. FABB Imagine went to plan and made a positive difference to the lives of children and young peoples and their carers.
What FABB Scotland has learned
We have been able to target parents most in need through this project. We have worked with new partner organisations and created links into mainstream drama and music projects. We have developed drama based youth work and included it into our youth programmes.
How FABB Scotland has benefitted from the funding
There are very limited after school opportunities for disabled children, particularly children who have complex needs across Scotland. There are a number of well documented reasons for this; namely lack of opportunities, school transport, lack of trained and qualified staff and volunteers, restrictive regulation and funding, low confidence of disabled young people and their carers. Better Breaks funding enable us to pilot FABB IMAGINE. Disabled young people expressed an interest in a more arts and music based group and activities. The project has been extremely successful and has led to a substantial interest from disabled children and young people across Scotland and led to collaboration with other third sector organisations like Drake Music. The feedback we have received from parents, carers, young disabled people suggest that there is an excitement and commitment to evolve this new musical theatre project. One parent described how in a short time her son had become more confident, had new friends and she was getting a real break for the first time as her son was now regularly attending other FABB programmes. We have involved young people in the design of the programme, the theme of the final performance and for young people less confident we have enabled them to learn new skills in filming, making props, photography and event organisation.
24 disabled children will have a new weekly opportunity to have fun, meet new friends and engage in a new creative and imaginative musical theatre programme.
We used our circles tool and drama to assess and evaluate the level of participation, fun, friendships and goals at the beginning of the programme, during participation and following the end of our engagement with young people . The project outcome was achieved. 2 x 12 week musical theatre programme, 3 weeks of rehearsal and performances of School of Rock and Disney.
SP benefited greatly from participating in the IMAGINE project. He is a very talented singer, as are many of the young people who participated, however he went on to perform in other talent competitions and produced his own music CD to fund raise for FABB. This project gave everyone regardless of ability and performing talent a role from backstage, prop design and stage lighting and IT to lead roles, chorus, dance, event organisation, fundraising and publicity.
48 carers had 93 hours respite during their children's’ participation in the music theatre programme. 24 young people participated 3 hours weekly for 12 weeks, 3 weeks rehearsals and a music live weekend 48 hrs and the performance.
We gathered information from parents and carers about their lives outside their caring role, their network of friends and their personal goals at the beginning and end of the programme. We organised a 30 week inclusive musical theatre programme, led by a trained musical therapist and working with other organisations, like Drake music to progress disabled children into music and drama following the project.
Some of the parents/carers have become close friends and they socialise together when their children are away on FABB weekends. A number of the young people have progressed into other music projects and community groups taken their interest further. One young boy performs regularly at folk events and Scottish Ceilidhs, and has been learning to perform a range of instruments.
48 carers will feel more confident to encourage their child to participate in other programmes, like themed weekends and activity breaks .
This outcome was fully met with all carers experiencing more opportunities outside their caring role. Our young peer leaders interviewed parents and carers at the performance events. 6 peer leaders participated as volunteers in the Imagine programme and we provided training in interviewing and recording skills.
From the interviews parents provided clear evidence that they had enjoyed time outside their caring role while the young people they cared for participated. The activities ranged from short breaks and nights out, to meeting other family members and friends, taking up new hobbies and DIY tasks at home. Exercise, relaxation, walking, cycling and gardening were all mentioned