Hello! Bit belated, however I would like to share a few words about the six sessions that Coralie Oddy (who also runs Remini-sense) and I delivered in Crystal Palace Park as part of the London Wildlife Trust’s continued Heritage Lottery Funded: Great North Wood Project. Coralie and I led six music, sensory and storytelling sessions over three days for between 6-8 adults with learning disabilities. We delivered the sessions in September 2017, a little over a year following the delivery of our initial Crystal Palace Park sessions for the London Wildlife Trust with Emmie Ward. Emmie was part of the development of these sessions.
It’s hard to express how delighted I am with the fact that about five years after first starting out on Crystal Palace Park heritage projects I have been able to develop my skills in terms of completing my Masters in Museums and Galleries in Education, learn about Joanna Grace’s Sensory Storytelling, tour guiding and oral history techniques from the Inspired by the Subway project – and most of all meeting like minded creative people to work with. Nothing beats the feeling of sharing a passion, brainstorming, developing and delivering a project with others. So thank you Coralie and Emmie! Thank you also to Penny who works in the Crystal Palace Park Information Centre building for welcoming us and the Friends of Crystal Palace Park for having us.
Coralie and I loved leading the sessions and meeting people from different homes and organisations. We varied the sessions slightly depending on the needs of the group. We had a great mix of participants and a couple of the groups had members who were predominantly sensory beings. Sensory beings is a term used by Joanna Grace to describe how this group of people largely experience the world:
Sensory Beings – people whose primary experience of the world, and meaning within it, is sensory. Joanna Grace The Sensory-being project
We focussed on sensory activities for these groups, however sensory experiences was a primary way of communicating our theme with all groups. I (and I am aware many others) have often argued – If you make heritage activities accessible to people with as many different needs as you can – such as in sensory ways – then the visiting experience will often be more pleasurable for all anyway. I also believe in exploring themes that anyone would want to explore in a heritage venue. It is not purely about simplifying things it about how you develop your programme of activities: I believe one should always get to know the subject as well as you can. Even when working with nursery aged children I am not satisfied with just knowing the basics. It means I probably take longer than anyone else to prepare anything, however, it is just the way I work. I need to understand the topic as fully as I can to work out the essence of what I want to get across. Spending a lot of time in preparation means that you are able to really develop activities that: actually make sense; are meaningful to the heritage location; and link to anything/connections you know between the participants and the theme. Most of all spend time with people and have a passion for the people you are working with. This will ensure experiences are truly accessible and mean that nothing is part of the session just ‘for the sake of it’ or an on the surface accessibility.
I think the photos of the session materials are more useful than any explanations I will give here. These photos follow below. Our main theme was the park and it’s different uses. One theme was focussed on the history of the area before the park – when the area was covered with the Great North Wood. We explored the plants, animals and people who lived there. Check out my song about Margaret Finch – famous for being called the Queen of the Gipsies and telling the fortunes of young reveller visitors to the area. For the second theme we concentrated on The Crystal Palace and included meeting Queen Victoria at the opening ceremony of The Crystal Palace (with added harp music accompaniment that I recorded as part of my community audio trail) and an exploration of the aquarium (of which there are still some remnant walls in the park if you know where to look!) and some of the inventions on display such as Maxim’s Flying Machine!
Here is some of the feedback we got: