Heather Fulton is Artistic Director of Frozen Charlotte Productions and a Starcatchers Associate Artist as well as lead artist for Creative Kin in Moray. In this blog Heather explores how the significance of the project has developed over the course of several months.
Creative Kin is a particularly special project. In my last blog I spoke about how it provides a platform to work with children and young people and the significant, influential adults in their lives. Now I am beginning to identify another reason that makes it so important.
In Moray we are now in block three and the group has almost entirely changed. With two of the larger families moving out with the region and new families joining us for the first time, it could have felt in many ways like starting again.
I say ‘in many ways’ as we still have the consistency, skill and expertise of the Children 1st staff, the delightful return of some participants from Blocks 1 and 2 and collectively, the relationships in which we have invested.
The challenge of this new group is the diverse age-range of the child participants – from 2-10 years old. Under other circumstances if I was asked to run a session with this wide a spectrum the words ‘no way Jose’ may have featured.
‘And by the way’ says Starcatchers ‘you are going to be engaging them for two hours….’. As a professional drama practitioner all my experience would have said this won’t work.
How come it does then?
I think the major reason – which is perfectly fitting given the project intentions – is that it feels like a family. Delivering a session with fifteen eight year-olds or ten one year-olds and their adults feels like a group.
A group made up of two, three, four, seven, eight and 10 year old children plus a bunch of adults aged from their 20’s to their 60s feels like a family.
The younger children distract and delight the older ones; the older children support and look after (and over) the younger ones – on one occasion our eight year old was making our four year old laugh so much I thought he might be sick, in a really happy way obviously . . . and like a family all the adults look out for all of the children, each child being equally precious and mischievous.
The two-hour session which could feel like a lifetime doesn’t. It gives us time to have a pause in the middle – to sit down and share some food and tea and juice together. It’s an incredibly valuable part of the session that I’ve discovered should not be underrated. This is when so much of the good stuff happens – people are relaxed so good chats emerge, we talk about other things than the activities in the session which is actually when I learn the most about how to facilitate the activities in the session.
Plus you get some cake so it seems utterly win win.
Creative Kin is a 2-year pilot project funded by the Scottish Government Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Project Fund and delivered in partnership with Children 1st, Scotland’s National Children’s Charity.