YOUNG PEOPLE TACKLE DISABILITY PREJUDICE AND THE CLIMATE CRISIS AT MANCHESTER LITERATURE FESTIVAL 2022
On Friday 21 October 2022, creative:connection brought together children with and without disabilities in Manchester and Salford for an inspiring environment-themed music showcase at Manchester Central Library, as part of Manchester Literature Festival.
“SEEING THE WAY THEY INTERACT THROUGHOUT THE WEEK TRANSFORM… FOR ME, THAT’S WHERE THE MAGIC IS.”Mike Poyser, create musician
Did you know that four in 10 parents of children with disabilities reported that their child ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ has the opportunity to socialise with non-disabled children?
Did you know that two-thirds of the British public feel uncomfortable when talking to disabled people?
creative:connection is our award-winning project tackling disability prejudice. The project brings children from special and mainstream schools together through collaborative creativity to encourage increased understanding about people with disabilities. Now in it’s seventh year, creative:connection in Manchester and Salford brought together 61 young people from four schools – Brentwood High School and Community College, Chatsworth High School, Loreto High School and New Park Academy – to connect over a shared concern – the climate emergency. Participants took part in four days of creative music workshops with Create musicians Bethan Roberts, Holly Marland, Matt Dunn and Mike Poyser, before coming together for a public Showcase during Manchester Literature Festival.
“STOP CLIMATE CHANGE, ACTION PLEASE!”
Participants wrote, composed and rehearsed original pieces of music, paying homage to what they love about our planet, as well as addressing the issues it faces. One original piece entitled “Blah Blah Blah”, which samples Greta Thunberg’s famous speech, ends with a powerful chant. The performers left the audience feeling moved as they demanded “Stop climate change, save the bees! Stop climate change, action please!”
Create musician Mike Poyser said “I think it’s really important that we look at things that are positive, rather than scaremongering. This week we’ve looked at how we really like animals, clean water, clean oceans and clean seas. We’ve decided we don’t like littering and we like recycling. Things like that are really important for children because it enables them to go and do those things. There’s very little point in panicking and saying we need to stop using so many fossil fuels, because there’s not much a child can do about that, but we can pick up litter, and we can ride our bikes to school.”
a safe space to connect
creative:connection brings children from different backgrounds together, providing a safe space for them to work collaboratively, explore their creativity, build relationships and grow in confidence.
“I CAN DO MORE THAN I COULD BEFORE, DUE TO WORKING WITH OTHERS.”creative:connection participant
The project seeks to break down barriers between disabled and non-disabled children. As lead musician on the project, Mike saw these relationships develop first-hand. He said “Watching the schools get used to working together is one of the main points of the whole project. The students try to help and support each other and that’s the joy of it all. If we had a project where we just made some nice music it wouldn’t be quite so exciting as seeing the way they interact throughout the week transform. For me, that’s where the magic is.”
Miriam Wild, Children and Young People’s Programme Producer at Manchester Literature Festival, said “For the past [few] years we’ve been working in partnership to deliver a festival event and it’s been amazing. We are always absolutely blown away by what Create manage to achieve in just a week with the four schools that they work with. It’s a great addition to our programme. Inclusive work is really important to us and [this project] truly is that.”
“I FEEL HAPPIER DUE TO THE HAPPY ENVIRONMENT.”creative:connection Participant
TAKING CREATIVITY HOME
Liam*, a student from New Park Academy, a school for children with social, emotional and/or mental health difficulties, shared his experience on the project. “I find it fun being creative, making a song and playing it. I’ve learned on the project that I’m very talented at playing guitar. Sadie [Chatsworth lead] gave me a guitar. It felt amazing because now I’ve got one, I’ve got a book to learn [from] and I can play all I want. I see a lot of potential in the guitar. The Chatsworth group are really talented people too. I’ve learnt that not only a few people are talented.”
Nicky Goulder, Create Founding CEO, said: “It has been so uplifting to see these incredible young people work together to create and then present such a powerful Showcase. The participants threw themselves into the project with open minds and enthusiasm, and the results are incredible. Hearing them create music about the issues our planet faces was deeply moving and a reminder that young voices can have such power. They are the future. A huge congratulations on their achievement, and thank you to Manchester Central Library, Manchester Literature Festival, and our project funders, The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation and The Tana Trust.”
*Name changed to protect anonymity.
creative:connection photo gallery
Participant playing the ukelele during showcase.
Participant playing the bongos during showcase.
Participant performing with guitar at showcase.
Participants performing at showcase.
Participant performing with harmonica at showcase.
Bethan Roberts conducting participants during their performance.
Participants performing at showcase.
Matt Dunn leading participants for their performance.
Audience at Manchester Central Library enjoying the performance.
Holly Marland and Matt Dunn leading the participants during the showcase.
Participant performing a solo.