By Nicky Goulder, Co-Founder & Chief Executive
Last month, in Manchester and Salford, Create ran its biggest ever creative:connection project. Four of our professional musicians worked with 56 disabled and non-disabled pupils from four schools to write original songs and music. The project culminated on Friday 14 July, when the young people gave two vibrant lunchtime performances of their seven pieces to an audience of 800+ people at intu Trafford Centre.
The schools involved were Chatsworth High School (for pupils with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism), Grange School (which provides education for the “Autism Community”), Loreto School (a mainstream secondary school), and New Park High School (for pupils with special educational needs or social, emotional or mental health difficulties).
Themed around “Manchester”, our professional musicians Emily Allen, Matthew Dunn, Mike Poyser and Bethan Roberts drew song and music ideas from the young people who created and rehearsed their new musical pieces with support from amazing volunteers from project funder intu.
Below are the lyrics to One Love Manchester, which was written and performed collaboratively by pupils from all four schools, the chorus also being sung in sign language. Pupils from Chatsworth High School prepared a slideshow of iconic images from Manchester, which were projected on a big screen during the performance.
Chorus (Written by all participants)
Even though the skies are grey
Music lifts the clouds away
We’re singing all together
One Love Manchester
Verse 1 (Written by New Park High School & Chatsworth High School)
We believe, let’s unite
Stand together, let’s not fight
Although people try to break us
Peace and unity is a must
Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand
Together in Manchester, we must stand
I’m not city or united
I’m a Manchester fan, our kid!
Verse 2 (Written by New Park High School & Chatsworth High School)
Robots dancing at the MOSI
Salford Quays, a sight to see
If your life gets too boring
Hit the museum of Alan Turing
One of my favourite things to eat
Eccles cakes in Albert Square
Let’s all join in with the beat
Football, cricket, we’ll see you there
Verse 3 (Written by Grange School & Loreto School)
Vibrant, inspiring, creative energy
Strong sense of community and solidarity
Our bond is unbreakable in this city
We’re destined to be
Manchester and me!
Verse 4 (Written by Grange School & Loreto School)
Cup of tea and Bourbon Cream
Everyone knows that is my dream
Sharing our Tombola ices
Sweet and salty, all the spices
Curry Mile and China Town
This is how we like to get down
creative:connection is designed to tackle disability prejudice through collaborative creativity. In a survey carried out by Scope and Mumsnet, 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 disabled people and that disabled people themselves think more interactions between disabled and non-disabled children would bring about improved attitudes towards disabled people. We designed creative:connection to encourage the development of these positive attitudes among children and young people through the experience of collaborative expression.
Since 2013 we have run creative:connection across England, from Cumbria to Kent. The programme has worked with 954 participants, 97% of them saying they had enjoyed the project and working with our artists; 91% that it had developed their creativity and 89% that it developed their teamwork. In 2016/17, 100% of our community partner staff rated creative:connection “successful overall”.
I was lucky enough to be at the intu Trafford Centre performance and it was brilliant – not only could you see how much fun the young people were having but how much they’d bonded through the song writing and rehearsal process. New friendships were formed and a wonderful shared understanding developed between students of different abilities. They were creative and collaborative and the performance was inspirational, showing the power of working together towards a shared goal and passion. We’re so proud to have been part of this wonderful experience and thank intu Properties plc for making the project possible.
We hope you enjoy these amazing photos from the performance, © intu Trafford Centre and Nick Harrison.