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'Seen but Seldom Heard': Using Performance Poetry to Raise Awareness about Disability Wendy Cutts & Caroline Hodges, Bournemouth University.

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Presentation on theme: "'Seen but Seldom Heard': Using Performance Poetry to Raise Awareness about Disability Wendy Cutts & Caroline Hodges, Bournemouth University."— Presentation transcript:

1 'Seen but Seldom Heard': Using Performance Poetry to Raise Awareness about Disability Wendy Cutts & Caroline Hodges, Bournemouth University

2 ‘Seen but Seldom Heard’ ‘Seen but Seldom Heard’ is a collaboration between Bournemouth University, Victoria Education Centre and Sports College, Poole. Project objectives: 1. To use a participatory arts-based approach to teach young disabled people new creative skills to enable them to have their voices heard. 2. To empower young disabled people to participate in conversations regarding attitudes, practices and policies which affect them. 3. To provide a space for young disabled people to tell their own story in response to negative media representations. 4. To offer the young people the opportunity to gain new skills and build aspiration for further learning. 5. To develop a creative, engaging, fun ‘campaign’ to raise awareness both locally and nationally of what it is like to be a young person living with disability.

3 “ “Participatory research is defined as systematic inquiry, with the collaboration of those affected by the issue being studied, for purposes of education and taking action or effecting change” (Green et al., 2003:419). “It [PAR] is about jointly producing knowledge with others to produce critical interpretations and readings of the world, which are accessible, understandable to all those involved and actionable” (Chatterton, Fuller & Routledge, 2007). Learning by doing Participatory Research

4 Creative Methods

5 Integrating AAC to enable the voices to be heard To create the poetry: Aids - Eye Gazer, wordbook, ipad To Disseminate the poetry: Performances Film Interviews and articles and a poetry anthology and website Each brings its own challenges, requiring significant technological support (particularly at events).

6 Impact to date Live public performances including 2012 Cultural Olympiad (Weymouth), Bridport Literary Festival 2012 etc. Documentary available on Youtube and via project website Interactive poetry ebook and printed poetry anthology elearning tool Student Testimonials

7 Participant Testimonial “I don’t class myself as being disabled so in my poems, I ask the question “Why I am disabled if I am capable doing all the things I want to do and I lead as much a normal life as anyone else?” It is my belief that everyone is disabled in one way or another and I try to portray this vision in my poem in a unusual way.”

8 Participant Testimonial “I made a poem with my friends called “Disability for Me”. It is about people who have a disability who should lead a normal life like they should be able to achieve what they want in the future. It was useful to me by writing about my disability and everyone there was very understanding about my stammer, they gave me time to speak and say my own opinions. It also helps me learn how to write the poems and having my poems published makes me feel famous!”

9 Participant Testimonial “The project gave all the students who participated a chance to let out their feelings and say how they really felt, and that is a really difficult thing to do. Performing in public wasn’t very hard, I love audiences and always laugh at what I see and get from them when they watch.”

10 Participant Testimonial “Poetry has taught me how to be open and talk about it [disability] and write deep-down poetry. At the beginning [I found poetry difficult] but then I got used to it and it was fine […] I am very open now. Before I was very shy and nervous and I didn’t really want to talk about it, but I did get on with it and talk about it [...] I am very open about it […] I know it sounds silly but I really don’t like talking to my parents about it, I really don’t like talking to other people about it […] it really helped me deal with what I’ve got.’”

11 Participant Testimonial ‘I learned how to send a message through poetry. I’m misunderstood, and poetry was a good way to put that message across and a way to express myself. I was hoping to move people… I wanted to express my story and show people that disability isn’t all about the wheelchair. Some people found the poetry humorous, some people found it emotional [the most important thing about the project was] that we all got our individual voices heard…everyone deserves a say.’

12 . Objective 5: Raising awareness of what it is like to be a young person living with disability Be creative. Raising awareness and changing practice. Be brave and effective

13 ” Audience Feedback Poetry can be an excellent way for individuals to express their feelings including frustrations/annoyances along with what makes you happy and excited. Again, this enables you to get to know people as individuals and see beyond disabilities.” ‘Very powerful – challenged my pre-conceptions. Broken down barriers – mainly based on fear. Very effective- the poems I heard today were very evocative and moving’. ‘Extremely powerful as by making a serious topic more fun and informative, people feel relaxed and are more likely to listen’. ‘Absolutely impressive. The credibility of these young people is astonishing and provides a truly valuable insight into the lives of those living with disability.’

14 Opportunities Networks Link to events and themes e.g. Disability History Month, the Paralympics Reputation – build on successes.

15 Challenges Funding Venues Timetables Getting an audience Quality – good art v impact

16 Future activity.... Visit to the House of Commons to perform/lobby Impact evaluation elearning Tool Further embedded workshops

17 The last word… “We’ve got the tools to take on the world, to change your mind, to make you see another way, through the power of our words.”


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