Stories have always been important to PAMIS since it’s beginning 29 years ago. The stories of the people PAMIS support have been at the heart of what we do and their stories have influenced policy, shaped research, contributed to innovative practice and changed lives. Personal stories, community stories, heritage and cultural stories have all been central to creating more inclusive communities. We hope you enjoy journeying with us through the writings on this page and we invite you to contribute too with your own stories.
Edinburgh International Book Festival – Event 2
‘We brought music into it, and what that did was to open up the opportunity for people with profound learning disabilities not to just be recipients of the story but to be active participants in it.’
Maureen Phillip reflects on last years festival during the ‘Business of Books: Opening Up Books’ event at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. Having the opportunity to open up the festival for people with profound learning and multiple disabilities (PMLD) in a way that had never been explored previously due to the need to take the festival online.
The benefits and challenges of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the topics covered by panellists during this event which aimed to explore how the literary industry can be made more accessible and inclusive for people with learning disabilities.
Three case studies were shared at the start of the event. This included a case study presented by PAMIS’ Programme Lead, Heather Molloy and our volunteer arts collective the Arts End Of Somewhere. As recently published Authors and Illustrators, some of the members of the collective, who all have additional support needs shared their thoughts and experiences on the subject. This included discussing how literary festivals could be more accessible to them as well as their journey to publishing their first book The Kippford Mermaid.
‘We had a lot of help with the pictures. There was a woman who sat on Zoom and talked us through it’ shared Zoe Charlesworth. Speaking to an audience of people from around the globe, this demonstrated how, with an appropriate level of support in place, people with learning disabilities are able to aspire towards publishing.
The Arts End of Somewhere’s publishing project is particularly innovative as the group have worked towards learning and understanding more about people with PMLD so that they are able to produce a book that will support them with experiencing a local folk tale through their senses. Speaking about this, Faye Cattanach said ‘I would love to make my mark on the world in sensory stories because I know a lot of people that it could help. My best friend is in a wheelchair all the time. She can’t speak […] and this can help her so so much.’
The case studies were followed by a panel discussion where a storytelling performance collaboration between members of the Arts End Of Somewhere and Paragon Music was discussed by Heather and Charlotte Riley from Paragon Music who made the point that it was important to ‘challenge the audience’s perception’ of accessibility and also urged industry professionals to talk to the people with learning disabilities as they are the ‘experts’.
The event ended with questions from the audience where panellists were asked to comment on the publishing industry in which all agreed that they needed to move away from ‘overestimating the importance of intellect,’ and recognising that people with PMLD will be interested in lots of different types of books and must have the choice. It should not be presumed what they will or won’t want to read.
The recording of the event is now available to view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq-ncb_uJnY
The online launch of The Kippford Mermaid by the Arts End Of Somewhere is also available to view on the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s learning site at https://learning.edbookfest.co.uk/resources/the-kipford-mermaid-a-multi-sensory-story-created-by-the-arts-end-of-somewhere/
Copies of the book cost £10 and all proceeds go back into the multi-sensory storytelling project in Dumfries and Galloway. These are available to buy directly from the publisher at https://curlytalebooks.co.uk/product/preorder-the-kippford-mermaid/
We would like to thank Catherine Jones who chaired and organised the event and the Edinburgh International Book Festival for inviting PAMIS to be part of this event and for the work so far in improving accessibility for people with PMLD at the festival.
Edinburgh International Book Festival – Event 1
YOU CAN by Alexandra Strick and Steve Antony & I CAN by the PAMIS Art for Well-Being Group, inspired by the book.
‘You can… be brave, be beautiful, be clever, be strong…’ Follow the story of an independent and inspirational group of children as they grow up and discover what they want to be in You Can!, the wonderful new picture book from author Alexandra Strick and Steve Antony.
PAMIS Art for Well-being Group participated alongside the authors as they shared their stories, and artwork, inspired by the book, at The Edinburgh International Book Festival. It was an incredible moment for these storytellers and artists as they are seldom included and almost always never considered. The book festival and PAMIS have been working together to address this for the last few years and this year the event was fully inclusive and YOU CAN was the perfect book to achieve this.
Stories help us make sense of the world, they entertain us, they teach us, they engage and connect us as human beings. You Can is a beautiful, inclusive and uplifting book about what children can achieve. It also gives children and young people a framework to have their voices heard, to be listened to, and acknowledged for what they can achieve. PAMIS say that people with profound and multiple learning disabilities are our best educators and they truly are. Inspired by the book, the group created their own personal illustrated stories and there is something incredibly empowering about the title of their work, I CAN. The title I CAN says so much more than I like or I enjoy, it really does gain your attention and you hear the voice of the person coming through. The words I CAN captures an awareness that almost commands action. For people with profound and multiple learning disabilities it is time to say I CAN, and time for society and services to say YES, We CAN. Too often we hear NO, WE CAN’T, followed by a list of barriers about what We CAN’T do and why WE CAN’T do it but it feels now is the time to say, You Can, I Can, and together We CAN. Thank you PAMIS artists and thank you Alexandra Strick and Steve Antony for presenting together to show what you can all do.
The artists from the PAMIS Art for Well-being Group who created the story and illustrations during their art class with tutor Ashlynn Wardle are:
Jack and Anna
Art materials by Jack supported by Ann-Marie and school staff
Art materials by Fiona support for Anne
Page 2: I Can as younger self
• Karate – Jack
• Sing along – Helen
• Do fun – Fiona
Page 3: I can as younger self
• Swim – Jack
• Splash – Rachel
Page 4: Art
• Paint – Jack
• Collage – Helen
Page 4: Art
• Paint – Jack
• Collage – Helen
• Paste – Fiona
• Colour – Neil
• Create – Rachel
• Draw – Anna McBride
• They also all made their frames for their images
Page 5: I can at current age/grown up
• Play instruments – Helen
• Listen to music – Rachel
Page 6: I can at current age/grown up
• Play video games – Jack
• Shop till I drop – Fiona and Ski – Neil
The artists would like to thank the following people for all the help in producing their stories:
Ashlynn Wardle, PAMIS Art for Well-being Group tutor.
Parents and school staff
Catherine Jones from the Edinburgh International Book Festival for her excellent choice of book and for being an inclusion champion.
PAMIS for promoting our work
Pat Graham for tirelessly working to promote literature and books for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities aa without her efforts we wouldn’t be where we are today.
If you would like to share your artwork or stories inspired by the book see the links below:
Main website: www.theyoucanbook.com
mailto: [email protected]
On Sunday 8th August 2021 families gathered together in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow for the first time in over 16 months and it was an emotional time. There were tears, after a long period of isolation but there was fun and laughter too. It has been a long and difficult time for everyone but for parents and carers of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, it has been particularly hard because of their 24/7 caring role with no support. The two hours of live music and story on Sunday provided the most physical interaction, stimulation and connection with others that their daughters/sons have experienced over the last 16 months and it was emotional. PAMIS have been hosting an online activity programme over this period and that has been a lifeline for families and brought with it some positive outcomes, but in terms of human contact and physical connection there is no substitute for being together as a group. The joy of being together, able to move freely and interact with the flow of the music and story showed on the faces of each and every person. The event was a celebration of the “Elements” music project that the families have worked on with Fiona Sharp over the last few weeks thanks to funding from Shared Care Scotland. Fiona designed a fabulous interactive Elements themed music celebration, and Maureen involved everyone in the trickster tale, How Raven Stole the Light. The theme of elements seemed appropriate for the day as the weather was unpredictable, the music flowed and the story was one of bringing light to the world.
GET INTO SUMMER
Summer is here and there’s a lot of summer activity happening at PAMIS. We have started our summer story programme and will be taking stories to communities around the country over the next few weeks. From river stories, summertime fun stories and music projects with Fiona Sharp online, to a music and story celebration of the elements with Fiona Sharp, and the participants in the online project and other families, planned for August in Kelvingrove Park, to preparing and rehearsing with groups across Dumfries and Galloway for a major multi-sensory performance story and drama later in the year, as well as preparing for the Folklore Festival, Wild Goose Festival and the Nithraid Festival later this year. Our creative team are beavering away. We are busy finalising our heritage stories and are also proud to announce that thanks to a grant from Shared Care Scotland, the PAMIS Art for Well-being Group led by Ashlynn Wardle are participating in the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year. Their work will be part of an event delivered by PAMIS and the artists, alongside author Alexandra Strick and illustrator Steve Anthony on 16th August. Also, if you are interested in books then sign up for the festivals business of books event and join in the discussion on Opening up Book Events for People with Learning Disabilities. Further details of these events can be found on the Book festival website and on PAMIS’ social media.
Have a fun summer time!
**Storytelling and Drama Opportunity**
This wonderful image of Alice was created by PAMIS Volunteer Robyn Souter.
PAMIS are thrilled to announce that they have been provided with generous funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Regional Arts Fund 2021/22. Alongside funding granted from The Holywood Trust, this unique storytelling and drama project will provide the opportunity for people with learning disabilities and PMLD to take part in multi-sensory story and performance workshops moving towards a large-scale production.
PAMIS are working alongside Paragon Music and the Activity Resource Centres in Castle Douglas and Dumfries areas to produce an accessible adapted version of Alice in Wonderland.
Places are now available for the multi-sensory workshops for what will become the main cast of the production. These will be led by our Programme Lead in Dumfries and Galloway Heather Molloy and Lucy McGill who is a local arts practitioner and dance choreographer we have worked with previously.
Due to current government guidelines, places for this are limited and will be given on a first come first served basis on us receiving a completed registration form. A waiting list will be in operation should any places become available.
For more information and registration forms, including easy-read version, please see downloads below. You can also contact Heather directly at [email protected]
Stories are Everywhere
I don’t know about you, but something I have heard many times is that we all have a story within us. It is an ambition for many to write a book, or tell their story, and advice often heard is ‘everyone has a story in them’. I would argue that we have many stories within us. Hundreds and thousands even.
So, don’t hesitate. Share your stories and open the window.
Extracts from Rivers and Shores
Here is an extract from the Rivers and Shores resource for you to enjoy. Feel free to access the resource on the Rivers and Shores page and we look forward to you sharing your river experiences.
Nature is a playground for the senses and each person will interact with nature in their own unique way. Being on the shore or listening to the sounds of the river, waterfalls, the sea and all the bird sounds, is a magical experience. Rivers and shores also provide opportunities for the sense of smell and taste. Some days, depending on the weather, you can almost taste the sea. The smell of sea air and seasonal plants that grow around rivers and shores provides amazing sensory experiences. Nature also offers many tactile opportunities to experience varying natural textures. On the shore there’s stones washed smooth by the sea. There’s driftwood and shells, seaweed, and sand. Seabirds too offer an exciting soundscape. In the forests there’s bark and leaves of varying textures, there’s the sounds of birds and insects. The sights, sound, touch, smell, and taste of nature in all the seasons whether on shore, mountain or forest offers the ultimate sensory experience for the body and the mind.
Nature settings provide the perfect framework for working with multi-sensory stories. To create stories in the natural environment with nature as the story theatre, offers opportunities for sensory connection with both the environment and each other. Sharing multi-sensory stories outdoors in nature allows for the natural weaving of the personal experience into the fabric of the story. Through this everyone becomes a part of the story as they interact and participate with the story in their own with nature as the guide.
Rivers tell their own stories as they weave and curve through the landscape over land that holds its own stories. The sounds of the river vary as it weaves its way through the land. Sometimes it’s fast and sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it rushes and roars on its way. The natural soundscape of the river as it flows to the sea can create a sensory experience that is unique to each individual. Waleed and his family spend a lot of time outdoors in nature and Waleed loves to spend time at the river, listening to nature’s wonderful sounds. For him the river is a place to relax, and enjoy the soundscape of the river at various points along the river. Often Waleed falls asleep when he comes to the river, but he also enjoys the louder parts of the river too. Waleed feels and hears the rivers own story through the soundscape it creates as it flows past him. The walk along the river for Waleed is a sensory experience of sounds and smells as well as a place to enjoy rest and relaxation. He loves watching the dogs, ducks and other animals and birds he sees on his visits to the river. Waleed loves the river and goes regularly to enjoy the river with his brother Shahzad.