Learning Disability Week 2021: crafts to inspire all abilities



Learning Disability Week is close to our hearts (and family) and creative therapy is practiced by many of our inspirational Makers. Fran is here to tell you all about how creativity has supported a remarkable family this year and how one of our talented tutors has made a creative contribution to her community. 


Photo provided by Mencap


It was Learning Disability Week 2021 from the 14th to the 20th of June and this year the inspiring team at Mencap focussed on a theme of art and creativity. Mencap has acknowledged how essential creativity has been in overcoming the challenges of the last year. For those living with learning disabilities, and their families, art and craft has allowed them to stay connected and provided a shining light in what have been difficult times. Mencap has provided enjoyable and accessible craft projects for a week, for everyone to try. 

We know that it can be difficult to define 'learning disability,' as it is experienced differently by each individual and within each condition. What we do know is that it is imperative to make creativity accessible, to open doors to all those who may find everyday activities difficult, or perhaps feel uncomfortable socialising. 


An inspiring tutor in our community


During a recent catch-up with artist and CraftCourses tutor Brenda, at Relaxation Through Art, she mentioned the creative work she has been doing in her local community.

The image above, with the stunning sunflowers, is a 'touch' based workshop designed to support all her students that are sighted, partially sighted and blind. Brenda finds creative ways of making craft 100% accessible to all and tailors her approach, bespoke to every student’s needs.


Watercolour art class 


Brenda also makes creative workshops accessible to those with learning difficulties and disabilities, she welcomes students with all abilities in her workshops. Brenda enables students to learn from each other, she encourages social connectivity and offers a platform where individuals can celebrate their creative achievements.


Brenda’s aim is to stimulate and engage students in the creation of both 2D and 3D works of art. She explores materials, adapts tools and techniques, and inspires individual creativity to make the chosen craft as accessible as possible to her audience. Brenda has arranged workshops in local care homes and worked with local charities to make her creative skills available to a vast audience of varied abilities and ages.


Relaxation and meditation through art


Brenda’s company name of Relaxation Through Art, is also indicative of her desire to promote wellbeing through craft and has over 10 years’ experience in developing and teaching her practice. Her aim is to explore exciting and simple ways to manage the stresses of daily life and makes this practice accessible to all levels and abilities. Brenda is very happy to be contacted to discuss new opportunities, please use the 'chat with the maker' button on her course listings to discuss your requirements. 


I was extremely humbled when speaking with Brenda, we are proud to have such inspiring artists and teachers working with us. To view Brenda's full range of workshops please click here. 


Promoting wellbeing

It is important to promote and protect your wellbeing

With the restrictions that have been imposed upon us over the last 12 months, often leaving us feeling isolated and occasionally frustrated, it is incredibly important to consider ways of promoting your wellbeing. Creativity has been a saviour for many of us and recent statistics by Kantar demonstrate how the UK alone experienced an exponential surge in the amount of people crafting and choosing to 'create their own.' Statistics have also identified a 102% increase in social media conversations about mental wellbeing. We know the two go hand in hand. 


For families that have a member with learning disabilities this feeling of isolation and lockdown has been a real challenge and opportunities to craft together and enjoy a special and unique experience together are invaluable. For courses that focus on health and wellbeing click here. 

An inspiring family story:

When I knew that Mencap was promoting arts and creativity for Learning Disability Week I was inspired to learn more about how crafting can impact the lives of those with a learning disability and their families. When I sat down with CraftCourses Founder, Kate, to ask if I could put together a blog on the subject, she embraced the idea and told me that she had a great example of how creativity can be helpful. 



Kate's niece Eva (11) and her two younger siblings making a weave.


Kate's sister Lynn lives in a gorgeous spot in France with her husband and three lovely children. Eva (11) is Lynn's eldest child and has an intellectual learning disability, which can make it difficult for her to learn new skills. 


Eva learning the art of creating a weave


Creating a rustic weave together gave the family an opportunity to connect and share an experience. Eva's parents and siblings supported her with easy to follow directions, demonstrations and repetition to ensure she felt confident to complete her own weave. 


The completed work of the three siblings


The final creations of these three, young, textile artists were beautiful (see image above). The way the brightly coloured fabrics are entwined with the thread and wooden branches is symbolic of how this art brought the family closer together, and now on-display in their homes, is a reminder of what they can achieve as a family. 


You can learn more about our weaving and textile classes here. 


To visit a full list of all our workshops that are accessible for those with a learning difficulty please click here and remember you can reach out to any of our course providers, if you would like to make an enquiry before booking, by selecting the 'chat with the maker' button on any of our course listings or by contacting us.


If you would like to get involved with Mencap and support this important charity you can do so here. Get involved. 

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