Can a child who can’t speak ever feel the joy of singing? Could a child who can’t walk ever experience how it feels to lose themselves in the movement of dance?
The Inclusive Folk project would like to offer an emphatic YES to both of those. We help children with disabilities to experience music with their whole being - whether it’s feeling the deep vibrations of a cello against their body, dancing with abandon to fiddles and accordions, or gazing in to the smiling eyes of someone who is singing a song just for them, we believe EVERYONE has the right to enjoy music and dance.
For the last two years we have been running small pilot projects in Oxfordshire’s Special Needs schools, to see what impact we can have on the lives of children with disabilities, and the results have been very encouraging. Children who can’t sit still are calmly enjoying a song or two; children who don’t move are tapping their feet or rocking in time with the music; children who don’t normally respond to anyone are giving us big, beautiful smiles. Teachers tell us that they have never seen this child so engaged with anything, they never expected that child to stay in the room, they had no idea this child would respond at all.
There are many academic studies as well as lots of real life examples of how the arts can improve physical and mental health, and we have seen this first hand during our work with disabled children in schools even when we are only there for odd days at a time. We have applied for a grant from the Aviva Community Fund to allow us to set up a full year’s programme in two Special Needs schools where professional musicians and dancers could visit school regularly to work with the pupils and staff. We would be able to create long term plans mapping progress throughout the year, as well as working alongside schools showing them how to use the arts to improve children’s basic skills such learning about their bodies, counting and basic numeracy, giving and following instructions, expressing choices, writing songs, and being creative. We would work closely with the school staff, helping them integrate the arts in to their everyday lessons, and build their confidence with incorporating music and movement in to the school day. Money raised through this crowdfunder will allow us to supplement that - every £1200 raised pays for an artist to go in to school for half a term. We’ve started low with the target of funding one term, but our stretch goal will fund two artists for a whole year!
We’ve uploaded a video so you can see firsthand how the children respond to experiencing live music, and to show you how YOU can help make a difference to these children’s lives by contributing to our crowdfunder, and voting for us in the Aviva Community Fund awards.