"A Great and Fun Project!"
Every other week during University term-time, the Oxford Companions take a group of pupils with special educational needs to the Ashmolean Museum, the world’s oldest university museum and one of the country’s finest collections of art and artefacts from various centuries and places around the world.
It is our aim to engage the pupils with the artwork, to open a new realm of experience and to provide a space where they can find out about new interests. Together with ‘Flash of Splendour Arts’, a charity that works with schools across the country, we run ninety minute workshops. Pupils and volunteers are introduced, then given a ‘guided tour’ through the museum and a short wrap-up at the end. For every pupil, we provide a volunteer, who spends the time at the museum with them.
It’s fascinating to see how quickly the pupils and volunteers develop a relationship and figure out common interests. One boy, for example, was particularly interested in the stories that were painted on ancient pottery and Chinese tapestry, fascinated by the colours and fanciful pictures. When he came again, together with his volunteer, he painted his own ‘life stories’ on paper plates. Another pupil, who most times needs a chair, overcame his shyness towards new things and decided to walk around the museum himself to have a closer look at the exhibits. For both boys, these visits encouraged them to push their boundaries and they went home with the feeling of an achievement and new self-confidence.
We were very happy to welcome two visitors from the Global Fund for Forgotten People and the Lebanese Association to one of our workshops this term, which regularly hosts camps for SEN children and teenagers. This was a great opportunity to get involved with the greater work of the Order and very encouraging to see our work being recognised.
We are very grateful to Flash of Splendour, our project partner, to whom we owe part of the success, as we bring together our strengths to make this work. FoSA liaises with the schools, we bring in the volunteers and work together on a concept that works for both of us.
One of our volunteers described it as ‘a great and fun project! It’s spot-on, you can manage to do this easily besides a busy university schedule. It requires nearly no preparation, you come and do your service and go back to work. And I love the children!
(Sina Fackler, COM Oxford, British Association)
A workshop for children with special educational needs - Oxford Companions, British Association
Community being served:
- Disabled Children and Adults
- Marginalised Communities