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How Harrow students are changing minds about disability through creative arts

In an inspiring display of artistic talent and creativity, students from Harrow are challenging societal perceptions about children with special educational needs and disabilities.

A multi-artform showcase, organized by Create,  a UK charity that empowers lives through the creative arts, will be held at Harrow Arts Centre on Tuesday, June 20th.

The showcase will feature artwork and performances from the changing:minds project, which was designed and led by Create. This unique event brings together five special educational needs and disability (SEND) schools and units from Harrow, encompassing students aged 5 to 19 from both primary and secondary schools. The participants will showcase their works in five different art forms: animation, ceramics, drama, music, and painting. All the creations revolve around the theme of “Harrow: My Local Community.”

Launched in 2019, changing:minds employs visual and performing arts to enable children at the five SEND schools and units in Harrow to develop new skills, build relationships, and enhance their confidence. Create’s professional artists lead high-quality workshops, providing disabled children with opportunities to explore their creativity.

How Harrow students are changing minds about disability through creative arts Harrow Online
The home of the arts in Harrow – Harrow Arts Centre.

The significance of this showcase lies in the persistent disparity between the participation rates of disabled and non-disabled individuals in cultural, leisure, and sporting activities. According to Scope, 24% of disabled people have encountered discriminatory attitudes or behaviours that underestimate their capabilities due to their disabilities.

The title “changing:minds” was intentionally chosen to reflect the challenges faced by disabled individuals and the prevailing perceptions of their abilities. Through the annual showcase at Harrow Arts Centre, the initiative aims to alter these perceptions within families and the wider community.

Concert pianist and Create Patron Nicholas McCarthy has said: “It was truly amazing to see the scale of talent of the children involved, their imaginations and their engagement in the workshop. For me as a Patron of this charity [this project] confirmed to me the need for people to have creative outlets at all stages of life, especially when we collectively face the difficulties that we have all faced of late.”

How Harrow students are changing minds about disability through creative arts Harrow Online

A parent who attended a previous Showcase said: “I thought the Showcase was marvellous. I believe children gain so much from art and drama. It should be accessible to all, especially to SEN children. This was so inspiring.”

Create’s Founding Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, commented: “This event is a wonderful celebration of the local community and of the talents of the students involved. No one should be denied access to the creative arts. Creativity allows us to think differently, to express ourselves, and to be heard. This Showcase is a reminder that the life-enriching power of the creative arts is for everyone.”