Performances for Special Needs Schools
Reactivate has been funding performances for Special Needs Schools since 1996, taking over the work started by a small group of volunteers to raise money to help disabled youngsters to experience Drama. Through the mediums of drama, music and dance we aim to enhance the lives of disabled people; to educate and entertain them; and to allow them to experience live arts both as participants and as audience members. To these ends we organise and pay, for live theatre performances and workshops, to be taken into Special Needs Schools, and Centres for the Disabled, throughout England and Wales.
Overcoming the problems of access
Taking the shows into Special Schools eliminates any problems of access or transportation and allows the children to be happy and relaxed in their normal environment, as well as, eliminating the cost and difficulty of transporting them to a theatre or other venue. It also means that less time is taken out of their school day.
The sort of children we help.
Reactivate funds performances for Children with disabilities aged 3 - 19 yrs across 90% of England and Wales. The schools they attend cater for children with emotional or behavioural problems, learning difficulties, physical handicaps, hearing or sight problems and those with PMLD. This latter group are only able to enjoy the show through the excitement of the other members of the audience, and wouldn't normally be able to attend or benefit from a theatrical performance of any kind. The average number of pupils, their teachers and carers, watching a show is 180, so while some schools are large enough to have a performance of their own; some of the smaller schools get together to share a performance.
We organise a lot of shows around Christmas time. A traditional time for pantomimes and for school theatre visits. Pantomimes can be particularly accessible and an easy route into live theatre for any child, with larger than life characters and stories that every one knows.
Unique Shakespeare for Special Needs project.
Children are required by the government to study Shakespeare as part of the National Curriculum. Children in Special Needs Schools have to fulfil the same requirement, despite their disabilities. While we think it's great that they are being given the same opportunity as everyone else to learn about Shakespeare, and are not being left out because of their disabilities, we are told by the staff that Special schools are not given the resources to be able to teach the subject properly. They also feel their training is inadequate for the task, and that trying to teach Shakespeare from a book, to children whose reading ages are poor, on top of their other difficulties, is extremely difficult and not particularly stimulating for the children.
So we have organised for a team of actors to go into Special Needs Schools to explore and teach Shakespeare through performance and workshops; showing Shakespeare's work through live theatre rather than books. By bringing the stories and characters to life in this way, we, and the teachers, believe that the children will be able to fulfill the requirements of the National Curriculum as well as learning to enjoy Shakespeare.
Recycling and sustain-ability project.
Not all of the projects that Reactivate funds are one-off visits to schools, we have also organised a tour of every special school in Wales of a performance and interactive workshop on Recycling. The aim of this project is to encourage good citizenship and help the children to pass on the message about good practise for environmental sustain-ability to both family members and peers. The work was originally created with the teachers and pupils of St.Christopher's Special Needs School in Wrexham.
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