In a time where most of us are only just discovering what isolation feels like, for the majority of young learning-disabled adults who have recently left education, this is the norm. These talented and passionate young people (and their families) begin a fight for survival, with few resources to even think about fulfilling their potential.
The Pelican Project was set up to help young disabled people feel less isolated after they leave full-time education. We offer opportunities that are available to most young people across our community, but inaccessible to some due to physical or intellectual disability. At the Pelican Project, these opportunities to feel part of the community, to learn and to create, are rights that should not cost families, particularly those in vulnerable positions.
We encourage and support young adults to have the confidence to be independent and to recognise their ability, not their disability, promoting inclusion and building social skills. We use the arts to bring people together and show our community the value that the learning-disabled community has for all of us!
We rely on funding to be able to deliver these opportunities. Your support is fundamental to providing a better quality of life for learning-disabled adults, their families and carers. With your support, survival becomes living.
‘Art is not what you see, but what you make others see’ Edgar Degas
Set up in 2017, united by a determination to provide an opportunity for young learning-disabled people to continue to grow and develop after they leave school, we embarked on a journey without really knowing where we would end up. Our aim was to enrich the lives of the learning-disabled community in Exeter and the surrounding area through The Arts, an area where we felt our core members could learn, demonstrate their value and begin making things happen in their community.
It was fundamental that our approach provoked the conversations that were often avoided. For that reason, we created a mission question rather a than a mission statement: How do we ensure disability belongs in our community?
This question has taken us on a three-year rollercoaster! The highs and lows of this ride have brought us to an ever-evolving programme of projects that has included collaborations with Exeter University and Exeter College, projects with Organic Arts at West Town Farm, Exeter Library and Exeter Museum, Exeter Phoenix, parties, carnivals, exhibitions, discussion panels, club nights, record producing and a list that goes on and on!
It has also provided us with two key aims which underpin the entire project:
Firstly, to provide opportunities that place the learning-disabled community, physically and intellectually, at the centre of Exeter's Arts and Cultural scene. We also understand that this community does not simply need providing for; there is a wealth of experience, passions and skills that the wider community can benefit from that is currently overlooked and underused.
Secondly, we aim to demonstrate this value and promote our core members as citizens and artists in their own right. Our organisation has a rolling programme of projects, centring on two weekly groups, including
- 'TOTIDA: Turn On, Tune In, Dance Out', incorporating elements of youth, street, music & dance culture
- ‘FreeFall+’, a visual arts club that sees our young people accessing a range of practices from screen printing to film making
In the past year we have enjoyed a rolling programme of projects including;
- Pelican Drama accessible drama group.
- Outdoor learning with Organic Arts @ West Town Farm
- Digital design with Libraries Unlimited FabLab
- Mindful Movement & Yoga wellbeing group
To see what we've been up to in the past year, check us out here:
We have lots of other fantastic projects in development include ‘Club Pelicana’ (accessible clubbing), creating age-appropriate sensory play equipment, Pelican Records and much more, however we need your support to help bring these to life.
Our services are free access – this is a fundamental principle of the project however this also means we rely on funders to deliver our programme. Without continued funding and donations, we risk not being able to continue to enrich the lives of these young aspiring individuals.
Raising £4,000 would enable us to do the following:
- Group facilitator/ artist costs
- Building our collection of accessible resources
- Transport costs
- Venue Hire
For just £5 (the price of a coffee & piece of cake) you could help provide the resources that one of our members uses in a workshop
Or for just £10 (the price of a good bottle of wine) you could help provide the transport for our members with limited mobility to get there!
For £20 (that new top you’re never gonna wear), you could help provide the space for them to create!
And for £50 (a night on the tiles), you could help provide the professional artist to teach them!
It is also important for us to get our message out there so we appreciate the time you have already given us and hope it is valuable to you to hear about this small corner of the community, regardless of what support you are able to offer.
We think our organisation and its members are awesome! If you need any more reassurance, take a look at these testimonies from some of our members and partners:
"The Pelican Project is about dreaming, believing and achieving" Abigail, Core Member and Pelican
"It was awesome! If you got more funding that would hopefully mean that more people can go. I really enjoyed it because you get to meet new people and it makes me feel happy when I go to drama." Adam, Core Member and Pelican
"I've really enjoyed the sessions and they have made me more confident. I would love to be able to continue going if possible." Caitlyn, Core Member and Pelican
“Digital design group has taught me that it is possible to overcome my physical disability by using CAD/CAM to make my ideas into tangible products” Georgia, Core Member and Pelican
"Rosie enjoyed coming to the well-being workshops as it was an opportunity for her to mix with her peers and to be on a level with others. R enjoyed using all her senses to access the different activities and to focus on what she can do rather that what she can't do. It was very interesting to learn the different relaxation and breathing techniques. It was great that the instructor took her time to understand each individual attending and to tailor the classes to their specific needs. Providing visually stimulating equipment, sensory items and activities that even the most physically challenged could participate in, I have not found anything similar that Rosie would be able to access and would love to be able to enable her to access a similar group.” Emma, Core Member Carer
"This has become a lifeline for us. Because there’s nothing out there for Jonathan to attend so it’s giving him a whole new life." Kat, Parent
"RAMM values Pelican Project for its work encouraging and enabling young people with additional needs to engage with culture and heritage in Exeter. Pelican acts as a critical friend in helping to guide the museum as it aims to make activities and spaces more accessible and appealing to young people with disabilities and their carers. The relationship makes RAMM’s audiences more diverse – which enriches the environment and events for everyone - and helps the museum to learn." Ruth, Exeter RAMM
‘The Pelican project has been good for me because it has expanded my knowledge on people’s different needs. It has taught me patience and more self-control. Also it has made me have a sense of accomplishment that I have helped someone feel ‘regular’ and involving them with people more of their age’ Kyle, Exeter College Student
The West Town Farm trips have proven very beneficial for our service users who come to CEDA, it has allowed them to experience new opportunities which they may not be able to access on a day to day basis. The farm is very accessible to our wheelchair users and our more able-bodied users and if there are any barriers, they are more than helpful to help us overcome them or change something so it’s more inclusive. The activities which are set up for us are very diverse and sensory, the activities have also prompted new opportunities and aided the service users to meet certain outcomes which they are set whilst at CEDA. The environment has also benefited the user’s anxieties and helped them to relax in a open and safe place and access the community. At CEDA we feel that more sessions would be a great opportunity for everyone involved. Ashton, CEDA