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Creative Care Home: exploring our creativity part 1

In his first of three blogs, Residential Care Home Worker, Adrian, reflects on the Arts Award project at Harewood Hill Lodge in Darlington.

Hi, my name is Jacky Cockcroft and I work at Harewood Hill Lodge as a residential child care worker. At the start of the Arts Award I would have said I was a creative person as I have always enjoyed the ‘arts’. I think that working on the Arts Award has made me enjoy the challenge of looking at different ways that I and other staff are able to get the young people to participate and have the opportunity of enjoying arts/music in its’ many different themes. The Arts Award has made me look at creative ways that the young people can explore art projects and have the opportunity to participate irrespective of their disabilities.

Some examples of creative arts were taking a young person who has sensory (visually impaired) to the cinema to enjoy a musical/songs being sung. The young people have also enjoyed going to the theatre to see shows run by Theatre Hullabaloo which they have thoroughly enjoyed. There have been workshops  with Theatre Mee Mee with the artistic director Pady O’Connor where the young people and the staff  got to do dancing/role playing. The role playing involved the young people playing a character in story and using masks and dressing up clothes to play the character. It was truly amazing to see how the young people engaged in the role play and really enjoyed playing their parts. The young people were really expressive and very good at what they did.

Other activities have involved the young people playing musical instruments drums, guitar, keyboards, chimes, harmonica. I have also been  involved in helping young people to do arts and crafts painting, drawing, making papier mâché models, collages, drawing and decorating Easter eggs over the Easter period. The Easter eggs that the young people decorated then went onto an exhibition at Preston Park Museum. With others from the staff team we all went to Borough Road Nursery to ‘Scrap Studio Arts’ where we as a staff team made a story sack – making characters for the story sack, each of us chose a character from the book (A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler) and made it.  I think this was a nice time to spend some time as a team out of the building where we normally are based. It was also enjoyable for the young people to be taken out in the community and to be able to experience different art forms whilst out; whether that be sculptures, sand sculptures, art museums, musical concerts, carnivals.

What has surprised me was how much enjoyment and fun the young people got out of the Theatre Mee Mee workshop. I thought the young people that were involved really got a lot out of it and it was nice to see them so expressive. The other aspect has been the time factor for me, as with working shifts it hasn’t always been easy to try and fit activities in that are relevant with the Arts Award. I think at work it has made me think of how I and the staff can try and look at ways that all the young people can experience the arts. In the future I am going to be looking at different ways that I can incorporate art and crafts into activities for young people with a sensory impairment.