A story by Project Ability
We delivered a monthly visual art workshop programme dedicated to working with children and young people with Down’s Syndrome aged 5-20 and their families and carers.
What Sunday Social did
We delivered 11 x 2hr visual arts workshops aimed at families where one or more child or young person (aged 5-20) has Down’s Syndrome. Workshops took place on the first Sunday of each month at Project Ability's fully accessible studios at Trongate 103, Glasgow. Two experienced Visual Art Tutors delivered each session of accessible, family friendly activities suitable for all ages and abilities.
Workshop spaces were booked on a first come first served basis and were advertised widely via our website, social media platforms and via Down's Syndrome Scotlands extensive network. Due to the unforeseen circumstances surrounding Covid-19 we have been unable to deliver our 12th and final session or planned exhibition. We would hope to be able to resume activity when it is safe to do so and propose using the exhibition budget to instead fund a further 2 workshops, giving 3 monthly workshops for families to look forward to returning to.
Mutual benefit: Children and young people and their families/ carers feel more confident, upskilled, better socially connected, proud of their achievements and enjoyed taking part in fully supported family centred activities.
Personalisation: Activities were tailored to the abilities and interests of those taking part and all children and young people and their families/ carers were supported to achieve their artistic ambition.
Targeted support: This programme was designed for children and young people with Down’s Syndrome and their families and carers. We understand from recent work with this group and our close connection with Down’s Syndrome Scotland that there were a lack of opportunities to access the visual arts and also for family groups to participate in activities together.
Adding value: We have a close working relationship with Down’s Syndrome Scotland and this programme was designed to complement existing activity and fill an identified gap in provision.
Knowledge and understanding: All feedback and learning will be made available to any third party interested in the project delivery and will inform our future programming.
What Project Ability has learned
Working with Down's Syndrome Scotland and having their support in publicising the programme and reaching out to families who had previously never used our services has been invaluable. They have a strong relationship with their families and having them promote our workshops has introduced a number of families to our services who may not have approached us otherwise. A small core group of families attended regularly and plan to continue to attend our Saturday workshop programme once this project ends, one family has already begun attending.
Until the closure of our workshops due to Covid-19 the delivery of the programme was running as anticipated and we were happy with programme delivery. Although it is unclear when our programme delivery will resume we feel it is important to conclude this project with our families and feel that at this time the most responsible use of the available funds would not be in hosting a public exhibition as planned but instead maximising workshop opportunities for the young people and their families by offering 3 workshops that will enable families to ease themselves out of lockdown, begin socialising again, and provide carers with some much needed support.
As mentioned above we will discuss opportunities to capture more formal evaluations on an ongoing basis and be less reliant on end of project evaluations in light of the Covid-19 situation.
How Project Ability has benefitted from the funding
This programme has strengthened our relationship with Down's Syndrome Scotland and the community of families we work with. It has strengthened our organisations reputation and improved our visibility in this community as a trusted provider of activities for children and young people with Down's Syndrome. Our monthly workshops were a pilot aimed at addressing a gap in visual arts provision as identified by Down's Syndrome Scotland and their service users. Feedback from many families who took part is that once the programme is complete they will be looking to enroll children into our weekly workshop programme, which they would not have had the confidence to do before or in some cases the knowledge of our services. Our weekly workshop programme is designed to support the needs of children and young people with a disability and their siblings and friends. Although they do not provide family centered activities parents who use the service value the free time the workshops offer them.
Children and young people will report that they have enjoyed attending the workshop programme, taking part in the activities offered and the opportunity to spend time with friends and make new friends.
Children and young people will be asked to provide feedback at the end of the programme (via a questionnaire with support where needed to complete from staff): Unfortunately due to the postponement/ cancellation of the final workshop and exhibition we were not able to collect end of project evaluations from all participants. However verbal feedback throughout and from those who did complete evaluations was overwhelmingly that children and young people and their carers reported enjoying the workshops and that they were a valued, rewarding and engaging part of their social activities calendar. A programme of high quality visual arts activities individually tailored to the abilities and interests of those taking part will be delivered by 2 experienced Visual Art Tutors.12 Sunday Social sessions over 12 months delivered in our safe, welcoming and fully accessible studios at Trongate 103. 11 of the 12 sessions were delivered successfully and as planned.
Participant A (aged 9) and her brother, Participant B (aged 5) have both been regular attendees of our Sunday Social along with their parents. Participant A has Down's Syndrome, her younger brother does not identify as having a disability. Since attending both children have now joined our weekly Saturday Visual art workshops and have exhibited work in our public gallery space, much to their delight . Their parents are now confident enough having participated in the family workshops to drop off both children at the Saturday classes and enjoy a break from their caring roles. Both children have flourished both artistically and socially in the workshops. Before attending Project Ability there were few activities the siblings could attend together that catered to their varied ages and support needs.
Children and young people and their carers will tell us they have enjoyed taking part in the activities, learned new skills, spent time socialising with friends (new &existing) and have taken pride in sharing their work with families, friends and wider audiences through a public exhibition at T103.
Children young people and carers will be asked to provide feedback at the end of the programme via a questionnaire, as previously stated we have been unable to collect written feedback from all participants due to the cancellation of our final workshop and exhibition due to Covid-19. Of those who did provide feedback everyone attending workshops enjoyed them, and the opportunity to spend time together as a family. Unfortunately we have been unable to share their achievements with friends and family through exhibition and this now looks unlikely to happen. We have however shared work via our social media. 12 high quality visual arts workshops with a range of learning experiences & a public exhibition of work at Trongate 103 for participants to share their achievements with friends, family and wider audiences, 11 of the 12 workshops were delivered successfully. We are hopeful there will still be the opportunity to deliver activity with the remaining budget once safe to.
Participant A (aged 9) and her brother, Participant B (aged 5) have both been regular attendees of our Sunday Social along with their parents. Participant A has Down's Syndrome, her younger brother does not identify as having a disability. Since attending both children have now joined our weekly Saturday Visual art workshops and have exhibited work in our public gallery space, much to their delight. Both parents have enjoyed taking part in the Sunday Social workshops as a family but also value the free time that the children attending the weekly Saturday workshops has given them and have told us were it not for attending Sunday Social as a family they would not have found Project Ability otherwise or had the confidence to leave both children. Both parents and children are also so pleased by the response to the children's work in exhibition from friends, family and the general public that they are actively submitting work to external exhibitions with the support of Project Ability staff.
Carers will have taken part in their own visual arts activities and will have enjoyed developing their creativity and meeting other carers and families knowing that the child/ young person is cared for in a safe, supported environment.
Carers will be asked to provide feedback at the end of the programme via a questionnaire. As above we were unable to collect evaluations from all involved but have collected verbal feedback form throughout the programme which overwhelmingly supports our aim of providing opportunities for carers to live a life outside of caring. Children and adults will be supported by 2 highly experienced Visual Art Tutors. Activities will be delivered in our safe, child friendly studios with secure entry and exit, All of the sessions were delivered by 2 Visual Art Tutors from our accessible, secure studios at Trongate 103.
Participant C and Participant D attended the workshops regularly with their mother and father. Participant C has Down's Syndrome and Participant D does not identify as having a disability. Both parents have been extremely vocal in their enjoyment of the workshop as a family and individually. What they have prized most is knowing that both children were being catered to as individuals and remained challenged and engaged throughout workshops, meaning they as parents could concentrate on making their own pieces, instead of purely supporting their children. They told us that before participating they had rarely tried arts activities at home as they weren't confident about planning activities or buying materials and had little time to devote to prepping at home. However, since attending the workshops they have borrowed some materials and extended their creative activities beyond the classes and even had the courage to plan and carry out some of their own. Both parents also enjoyed their time in the sessions so much that they have 'made time' at home to pursue their individual arts interests too and have told us they are much more confident in their abilities.