Campaign! engaged over 300 young people, from various groups and organisations including schools, colleges, youth groups, arts organisations, charities and other support networks, to deliver 11 campaigns.
We worked with deaf and disabled young people across the South East partnering them with artists and supporting them to develop creative campaigns that communicate ideas, opinions and issues relevant to them.
These groups drew on their own experiences to help them make their campaigns but were also inspired by the international celebration which forms part of the Paralympic Games: Campaign! aimed to celebrate collaboration between young disabled people in the South East with those from other countries as they worked together to build campaigns and raise awareness around issues that affect them in their respective environments.
This process also enabled the young disabled people to respond to concepts of equality and global citizenship and to develop their understanding of how similar issues are experienced differently around the world.
The collaborations have taken place in so many different ways:
International visits by Sign Dance Collective’s young developing artists to deaf schools in Greece and Turkey, resulting in a piece of theatre devised from the ideas of these young people and from students in Folkestone, Kent. The process of creating this piece of work, taking inspiration from all across the globe had a unifying effect on one of the young artists.
“…at the deaf schools we asked them three questions, what do you like about your country?; What don’t you like? ; And If you met any powerful people that could change things what would you ask them? ; I found it strange that whenever they were from they all had the same theme going through. They all wanted to be proud of their country, especially in Greece with the financial problems. So I felt connected because there was a universal message of pride and community that I connected to.” (Participant)
This connection with international partners was an important part of the campaign making, even for groups that were not able to physically meet. The Orpheus Centre in Godstone, Surrey used the question ‘What stops you?’ as the starting point for gathering material for their campaign. They gathered responses to this question and collected over 350 responses from around the globe. These answers and subsequent questions have informed the creation of their installation “The Museum of Small Remains”. One participant summed up the inspiring results of this simple process by saying:
“I think what I’ve enjoyed most is asking people the smallest question, but getting the biggest answer.”(Participant)
For other projects the most meaningful connection with their international partner came after their campaign had been made. Square Pegs in Maidstone, Kent, and young people working with an NGO group in Moscow, Russia shared film work that each group had done.
“It was really interesting to see that both groups used the transition from black and white to colour as a way to show the isolation and loneliness they felt and then the positive change having friends who understand and include you, and the importance of a support group to enable this.” (Group Leader)
The campaigning work itself has also been used as a starting point for international partners to create their own work. The music and dance piece created by students from Arbour Vale School in Slough and Pebble Brook School in Aylesbury was a creative starting point for disabled young people in Cambodia to start thinking about their own campaigning message.
“The Campaign!film instigated discussions with the Khmer students, thinking about what it is like to have a disability as a young person living in Cambodia.”(Artist)
Across all the campaigns and all the work the young people have done the groups have been part of celebrating the positive impact deaf and disabled young people can have within their community and across the world. The Paralympic values of respect, excellence and friendship have formed a huge part of the Campaign! project and the young people involved can now take these forward in every part of their lives
It was supported by Parliamentary Outreach at the Houses of Parliament, which works to promote the role, relevance and function of Parliament in people’s lives today. Three groups took their campaigns to Parliament.
Young people identified what they wanted to work on and with the help of artists were able to express their thoughts through film, animation, theatre, dance and art exhibitions. Some of the Campaign messages included the challenges of finding meaningful paid employment; lack of support/funding for the set up and sustainability of inclusive support/arts groups; raising awareness of the word ‘para’; and tackling bullying against disability.
The work was then disseminated and shared and reached over 800 audience members including MPs and members of the house of lords, students in both main stream and SEN schools, members of local government, local businesses, stakeholders, footfall in town centers, libraries and museums and the general public.
The campaigns promoted online have had over 2500 hits.
A sharing celebratory event in July 2012 was attended by over 100 of the disabled young people who took part.
Key outcomes for young people of Arbour Vale School; Pebble Brook School; Inter-action MK; Square Pegs; The halow project; Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Unit; Sign Dance Collective; The Orpheus Centre; St Catherine’s Speech & Language School; Freewheelers; Bounce Theatre & Shooting Star Hospice and Treloars College: the empowerment of young people, to give them a voice and a means to articulate a message; to enable them to make a change or difference and capitalise on other opportunities. We have supported over half of the partners in embedded and sustained legacy plans and as a result many have been successful in securing additional funding or support to further disseminate their campaigns or implement a legacy of activity that will address the issues raised in their young people’s campaign; to connect with others in the world in purposeful partnership and collaboration. The young disabled people were enabled to respond to concepts of equality and global citizenship and to develop their understanding of how similar issues are experienced differently around the world.
These campaigns will have a lasting impact on opportunities for and attitudes towards young disabled people in the South East and around the world.
Campaign! was developed for Accentuate, a transformational programme of 15 projects, inspired by the Paralympic Movement, which seeks to change perceptions and offer opportunities to showcase the talents of deaf and disabled people. Accentuate has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK, SEEDA and the regional cultural agencies. Screen South is the home of Accentuate.