“HANDS AND SKY PROJECT: MAGICAL JOURNEYS"
The "Hands and Sky" project aims to address the needs of children who are not easily able to access social and leisure places with their peers. It aims to offer a multi-sensory well-being and educational program for early year and primary age children on the high end of the autistic spectrum and/or with complex medical, sensory and physical disabilities together with their Carers.
It seeks to address a gap in developmental experience for some children who find it hard or impossible to join in with group activities or to fully engage in outings due to their disabilities and sensitivities. Their exclusion from day to day educational and cultural activities can have a long-term effect on their emotional wellbeing and can lead to isolation and mental health problems both for them and for their Carers. This is the issue that we are addressing with this project.
The approach is to create an immersive experience in their schools which incorporates therapeutic touch, movement, and song/story-telling in order to engage these children and reach them where they are. It works strongly with the imaginative reach of each child and their urge for exploration, growth and wonder.
We want to encourage links between learning support assistants and parents both within schools and between participating schools. In time we hope this will build bridges across communities bringing people together to share limited resources and to practice therapeutic touch, music and story-telling from a range of cultural influences.
The aim of this approach is to sensitize carers in their day to day contact with these children in order to encourage a strong nurturing and expressive relationship. We organize small group sharing events attended by staff, parents and children from participating schools at the end of each project with live musicians.
The work draws theoretically on some of the writings of Merleau Pointy and his understanding of embodied learning; learning from out of our body's on-going experience that is changing in each moment; being aware and alive to this drama. It also draws on Donald Winnicott and his emphasis on simple "Good enough" care-giving. Daniel Sterns' book; "Forms of Vitality" has had a strong influence on the development of these programs with its sensitivity to the rhythm of how we meet in each moment.