• Sandra Conte

Huge success - Disconnect to Connect project

The children and young people completed the Disconnect to Connect project yesterday and what a huge success from start to finish. On arrival the chldren were a bit daunted as they didnt know what to expect - however they quickly got into hands on mode with their tutor and artist Billie Achilleos. It started with hot wire carving a huge lump of polystyrene to become the shape of their final piece. Moved on to cutting used wine bottles in half on a tile cutter for assembly into the final piece, and finally cement mixing and placing. What was interesting with this project from the outset was that once the children handed in their mobile phones they didnt ask for them again until end of the day, and some of them even forget to pick them up at all. It really demonstrates the power of creativity of Disconnect to Connect in that the young people were constantly active both inside and outside doing a variety of hands on tasks that they found exciting and enjoyable.

We enjoyed a visit from the High Sheirff of Hertfordshire, Sarah Beazley, who suited up and had a go at the tasks the children were performing, much to their delight. A big thanks for her time spent with us and for joining us for lunch.

The youngsters were impressed by being taught and supervised to use power tools; comments from some of the children that they wouldnt have been allowed to do this at home. I do often wonder if we don't expose our children enough to 'managed challenging activities' or how they will ever become able to recognise danger in life when they come across it? How will they be able to use coping skills they have never been taught?

During the course of the activities the children bonded well with each other, becoming a little competitive, which is always healthy in my opinion. They ate together, worked together and played together. They came from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and it was a delight to see them just getting along and being children.

The learning for me from this fantastic project was that children need opportunity to take calculated risks and learn from them; that they now know they dont need to be dependent upon the internet for amusement and friendships and that they can learn how to become resilient.

I would love to be able to show you the finished product but the sculptures are for unveiling at our AGM on 12th September, after which time I will publish all the photographs from the project. I have ideas for some new projects for kids so keep an eye on the website for more fun programmes!

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