How we build confidence with Can Do
Fiona is one of our Can Do Coordinators. She tells us how the poetry sessions she's been running have helped young disabled people have an outlet during the pandemic.
We’ve had a really positive experience during lockdown, and the poetry and drama sessions with Louise Fazackerley have been fantastic.
I knew they would be having worked with her before on a project I was doing with a local school. But I did wonder how they would work with an open group and what the uptake would be as poetry can be perceived as a ‘niche’ subject.
Building relationships and trust
The groups have been small, but this has been advantageous as they’ve given everyone a chance to participate and get to know each other, building up a relationship and trust, which is essential in a creative atmosphere so that people feel comfortable being themselves and sharing their thoughts and ideas.
Most of the participants have come back for every session, and smaller groups have worked best. I could see by their faces and the interaction that they loved being part of the group and producing a piece of work by the end of the session. A couple of them write poetry independently, but everyone has enjoyed the collaboration and creating pieces of work that may have proven a struggle on their own.
Some are more confident than others, but this lends itself to the sessions, as the more confident ones encourage others to join in too. Virtual sessions are very relaxed. Although gentle encouragement is given, we don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or feel like they have to say anything. However, they all usually do, which is excellent!
It’s particularly satisfying to see confidence building week on week, the quieter ones getting more involved, speaking up and sharing their thoughts and ideas. It’s lovely to see.
The experience has been invaluable
We also gave the participants time to share any of their personal work if they want to. Some have taken this opportunity to read their own poems or short stories. Others have read some of their favourite poems by other people or even sing a song to us – we are very flexible! Whilst Louise’s content has been fabulous, allowing the group to chat or just read out their favourite poems/stories has been invaluable.
Louise was brilliant with the young people; she is a very talented artist and adept at interacting with the participants. She’s always flexible to their needs.
The work produced has been excellent, covering various themes such as reasons to be cheerful, happy places, music, future hopes (about life after lockdown). We even did one about St Patrick’s day.
Chance to forget about the outside world
The poetry sessions have been fun and positive, offering creativity and friendship at a tough time. For a short period on a Wednesday afternoon, everyone can sit down, relax, forget the outside world, and concentrate on being creative, happy, and having fun.
The sessions have given the young people a sense of belonging, an outlet to showcase their work and a chance to meet and work with other young people. It has been a positive and safe environment for young people to be creative and hopefully feel inspired to write their own stuff.
These lines from their ‘New Summer of Hope’ poem encapsulate an air of positivity that ran through the sessions. I feel like it fits the mood as we head out of lockdown:
“I’m looking forwards to going to the cinema and meeting friends and swimming. If I’m laughing with my friends, then that’s the race I’m winning.”