Lockdown online with AAM

As soon as lockdown was announced, we knew we needed to do something to support our participants while they were at home. We decided to go take our sessions online and that’s when our Accessible Arts & Media online sessions were born!

Since the end of March, we’ve been delivering sessions on Facebook Live and YouTube and all our sessions are free and open for anyone to join in.  So far, we’ve shared 53 live and pre-recorded sessions and our videos have been viewed over 13,500 times!

We started initially with some Sensory Music and Singing and Signing sessions and we’ve now expanded the range of sessions to include music-making, creative sensory, creative messy play and sensory stories. We’ve even created a series of music-making sessions for younger children that we were able to share with our Junior IMPs (Inclusive Music Projects) at Westfield Primary in Acomb.

A photograph of Dan and his Mum taking part in one of our Sensory Story sessions

One of the challenges of going online has been creating music-making sessions that use things that are easily available in people’s homes. We’ve had to put our thinking caps on to come up with ingenious ways for people to create instruments cheaply and easily from everyday items they have lying around the house.

We’ve loved hearing about how creative everyone’s been and it’s great to see the photos and videos of the brilliant instruments people have made. Ian from our Hands & Voices project told us, ‘I like to play along to the music in sensory music. I’ve made a drum out of a quality street tin, a shaker and a yoghurt pot. You never know which one you’re going to get next!

Our online Sensory Stories that Hannah’s been writing during lockdown have been a real hit too. Using our prop-making videos, everyone’s been able to spend an afternoon making props and then join in with the story session. So far, they’ve been able to take themselves off on a Sensory Story to the beach, the farm and even to a birthday party in the sky - all while staying at home!  

A photograph of Claire taking part in our online music-making session

Lucy and Leeann have been taking part in our online sessions since week one and Leeann told us that they’ve enabled them to be, ‘Super creative! Lucy is experimenting with all kinds of stuff - recycling household things! Bubbles, toilet roll tubes, tambourine. Household items are now the new toys! Now Lucy engages with her toys.' 

While it’s not the same as seeing each other in person, we’ve loved how the online sessions have created a new online community that we can all be part of. Dan, who comes to our Hands & Voices and Movers & Shakers projects told us, ‘I like the comments. Knowing everyone else is there and commenting.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been out and about to socially-distanced film people from our online sessions outside their homes. We’ll be putting the footage together to create performance videos of everyone singing, signing and playing along together. It’s been really special getting to see everyone and have a chat, sing and make music together. Make sure you keep your eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages in September for a very special lockdown performance!

We always ask our participants for feedback and this term’s been no different. One of our favourite questions to ask is what three words people would use to describe our (in this case) online sessions. The word cloud of everyone’s responses has been making us smile every time we look at it.

Image of all the words participants have used to describe our online sessions

Here’s what else our participants have told us about our online sessions: 

  • 100% told us taking part in our online sessions makes them feel happy
  • 100% told us that they feel they have a say in what happens in our sessions
  • 82% told us that taking part in our online sessions helps them feel connected to their friends
  • 100% told us that taking part in our online sessions had helped them be more creative at home
  • 70% told us that taking part in our online sessions has helped them get better at using their computer or tablet
  • 82% told us that taking part in our online sessions has helped them get better at concentrating

We asked our participant’s supporters and family about our online sessions and 100% of them told us that they think the quality of the sessions is excellent and that having access to the sessions during lockdown has been really important to them. We asked them why the sessions have been important and they told us:

'Because everything stopped and it’s so nice to be connected.' Karen

'So important. That's how we've got through lockdown, it's provided routine, consistency, something to look forward to.' Leeann

'She would have lost all connections without them.' Mandy 

We’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s taken part in our online sessions, sent us video and photos, left us comments and taken part in our filming. While it’s not the summer term we’d planned this year, it’s been a really special one and we’ve loved being part of with you all.

Here’s to more fun and games online!