The Life & Deaf Association won the Children & Young People Now 2012 ‘Arts & Culture award’ for ‘Life & Deaf 2: That’s not all of me’. This project was recognised as ‘the initiative that has done the most to inspire children and young people in cultural activities and where innovative collaboration is shown between children’s services, the cultural sector and children and young people’.
“Thousands of people have been reached by this project, which culminated in a groundbreaking live performance piece and short film made entirely by deaf young people featuring poetry composed by young deaf writers.
Funded primarily by Greenwich Council’s sensory service with some private sponsorship, the scheme kicked off in January 2011 with the aim of supporting deaf children and young people to develop literacy, language and creative thinking skills. Around 150 deaf young people attended creative workshops.
More than 50 poems written by deaf young people from across the UK were used to make one long, collective poem showing the spectrum of deaf children’s views and their common and unique experiences. Deaf children then transformed their poem into a short film, an audio poem and a piece of performance theatre.
The film features poetry in British Sign Language and English and was given a rapturous reception by a deaf and hearing audience at its premiere at London’s Southbank Centre in March this year.
The deaf young poets have since performed in school assemblies, and to an audience of 200 school children as part of the Cultural Olympiad at the London 2012 Olympics. Meanwhile, an exhibition of poetry and photography from the project has been on show to the public at the Greenwich Picturehouse Cinema, the Blackheath Concert Halls, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and the Deaf Cultural Centre in Birmingham.
A vibrant website has helped secure an ever-expanding audience, with schools across the country making use of downloadable resources to support the use of poetry to develop the skills and confidence of deaf young people. One of the young judges described the project as “a real self-esteem booster for deaf young people”.