So the 44th day of 45 Days to Find My Way came around and our wonderful young people were so excited to share their final piece with a live audience in the theatre at ARC. They had sectioned off the main theatre stage and wanted the audience on stage with them to make sure it was an intimate sharing with plenty of space. The technicians created a short tunnel for the audience to enter through.
45 Days to Find My Way has been a year-long project with 11 young disabled people exploring identity, personal ambition and achieving goals through the arts. A truly wonderful, energised and enthusiastic group of young people came together in September 2015 after a couple of taster sessions earlier in the summer. They have been generous, supportive of each other and open to the adventure we embarked on.
In their own words:
“We used drama exercises to get to know each other, discussion and visual art to talk about personal qualities and skills. We’ve had a lot of fun but everyone has been dedicated to working hard. We’ve made collages, animated films, hosted a portraiture exhibition, created a flash mob for the people of Stockton and even been featured in a Spirit of 2012 Trust Film. We have all had goals and want to share with you how we have found our voices, found our place and want to bring about change.”
“We want to ask people not judge a book by its cover, don’t make assumptions about who we are and what we are like. And please don’t underestimate us. Just because we might look different, sound different or seem different, we still have things that are really great about us. There are lots of things that we do and can do, but you might not always see them. We also have talents that other people don’t have – just because you don’t see it, it doesn’t mean we can’t do it.”
“Some of us face difficult things, we face barriers in all parts of life and often we have to work ten times harder to get something. That means we are strong and determined. Sometimes people make decisions for us and tell us we can’t do things.”
“We want the same things everyone wants – to get our dream job, to have our own business, to get married, to live independently, or to travel independently. People say, you can’t do that because you’re disabled. Well actually I can. Some of us will do it independently and some of will do it with the right support in place. It doesn’t mean that we can’t reach our goals – it might take a little bit longer but we are going to get there.”
“For our final piece as we come to the end of our project we wanted to show you how we found our voices and how far we have come. We all had different ideas, goals and interests but we became a great team. We hope our piece shows you that.”
“Someone was missing from today’s live performance so we included her in film as she is an important part of our group. She was missing for good reasons – adding a tiny little 12th member to our group. Welcome to 45 Days little baby Leon! We have all contributed in all sorts of ways to this presentation and we were thrilled that Adele and little Leon came to see the show.”
“Each piece we have created is a little spark of an idea, a glimpse of the potential we all have, and we have all dedicated this work to those closest to us who give us their support.
In the presence of The Worshipful Mayor of Stockton-On-Tees, Councillor Ken Dixon and Mayoress, Mrs Linda Dixon who very kindly handed out certificates to members of the group on their achievements.”