Cool Things and happy times together!

Owain Davies, Education Officer with Darlington Virtual School, gives an insight into a day of creative activities organised as part of our Darlington Cool Things project.

Over the Easter holidays just gone, we (Darlington Virtual School) joined up with our fab partners at Blue Cabin to run two separate ‘Cool Things’ activity days for our children, young people, and their parents or foster carers. After the huge success of similar sessions that took place over the Christmas period before, we were extremely keen to do this again – to arrange special, bespoke events where everyone can come together and take part in arts and craft workshops and enjoy live theatre. The aim was pretty straightforward really: shared positive (happy) experiences – simple.

Through their links with some of the best practicing artists in the region, the Blue Cabin team yet again planned and delivered two wonderful arty and crafty days. There was such laughter, excitement, smiling, as well as an incredible level of focus and attention as children (and adults alike!) became well and truly engrossed in the printing, modelling, drawing and designing activities. What was really lovely, is that everyone took home their fantastic pieces of art/craftwork where they must now, no doubt, sit pride of place on many a fridge door, mantelpiece or bedroom wall.

A trip into the theatre came after a well-earned sit-together lunch, with the older children treated to a fantastic performance of ‘Babayaga’, a magical, mystical Hansel and Gretel-type story of a cunning old witch, but where two children, a brother and sister, learn of how brilliant and brave they truly are. Cue hands over eyes, raucous laughter and loud hoorays!!! as the determined and resilient siblings finally triumphed. The younger age group were just as enraptured as they learnt how to become ‘masters of disguise’ as honorary members of ‘The Secret Owl Society’. To borrow the pun, the children had a complete HOOT!

And so, after all the fun and excitement, and with applause still echoing and smiles still beaming across faces, we sat down together for a ‘farewell until next time’ hot chocolate and cookie – a perfect end to a super day.

What has struck me since becoming involved with Blue Cabin is the clear passion all the staff, artists and actors have for their work. Moreover, the thoughtfulness, consideration and understanding of how and what a day should be like for each respective group, along with the attention to detail, patience, sensitivity, care and love put into running the sessions has meant each day has been a huge success. It’s been lovely getting positive feedback from a number of the children and adults who have been able to attend. However, personally speaking, what is immeasurably more valuable than that is to have been lucky enough to have been a small part of it, and witnessing first-hand the smiling faces, the sound of laughter, the pride as each child (and parent or carer) carefully packed up their pieces of art to take home in their swag bag, and to see the contented ‘family’ groups leaving for home after a happy day spent all together. Can’t wait until next time…

Find out more about the Darlington Cool Things project, which provides creative opportunities for care experienced children and young people, here