Students from Coleg Cambria Northop have been involved in a new arts-based project, Same but Different- a not for profit organisation based in Mold. They recently launched ‘We can…’ an arts based project using photography and video to highlight the people behind disability.  

‘We can…’ looks to promote greater awareness of the huge amounts that can be achieved by adults with learning difficulties and children with complex needs.  The organisation is building on the success of the Rare Project, which used photography and supportive videos to highlight Rare Diseases and saw exhibitions in the Senedd and Houses of Parliament as well as coverage in over 24 different countries.

The “We can…” project used photography to capture powerful images, videos and written pieces to tell the students stories.  Each person who has taken part is an adult with learning disability.

“Sometimes people make remarks that I can’t do things and this makes you feel like you can’t do it but then I look back and realise that I can do things” added Scott Morris, age 20 from Deeside who has moderate learning difficulties and is currently studying Life Skills at Coleg Cambria Northop.

“I may learn a bit slower but I can still do what you can do.  My dream is to become a farmer.  This has been my dream since the age of 10 and so if I don’t achieve it I will be really sad.  I can’t do it alone.  I will need a bit of help to get started but everyone needs help in the start”

Kate Siseman aged 36 from Buckley who is also studying at the college and was part of the project said:

“My favourite course is office and media because in that lesson you do many different things and I like computers.  I love the fact you can listen to music while you type because it helps me clear my mind out.  If I had to describe myself I would say I was smart, friendly, caring, kind and very sociable.  In other people I look for someone to have a good personality.” Kate has Downs Syndrome.

Peter Millar aged 24 from Birkenhead who is studying Horse Care at Coleg Cambria Northop said:

“If I had to describe myself it would be enthusiastic, caring and hardworking.  I really like horses, they are my passion.  I love horses because they can sense if you are down or when you are happy.  In Sheffield there are Special Olympics for people with learning disabilities and I am taking part in equestrian which has got three disciplines which are dressage, horse care and horse trails.  I think that people with disabilities should have a chance of trying different things, even if it is ILS to mainstream.  At least they can try their best to get into a higher level.  It is important because people with disabilities are still human, like everyone else.”  Peter has moderate learning difficulties.

Photographer and founder of Same but Different Ceridwen Hughes said:

“The aim of our organisation is to use the arts to create greater awareness of the person behind disability.  This latest project has been wonderful to do and I am extremely grateful to the participants for giving up their time.  Each scene was carefully planned to highlight activities that they enjoyed and also to demonstrate what valuable members of the community they are.  The adults who took part are all keen to work and have a wealth of skills that people often overlooked because they just see their disability rather than their ability.”

“We will be displaying the exhibition on our website (www.samebutdifferentcic.org.uk) along with the stories and videos to support each image.  There will also be a touring exhibition taking place and we look forward to introducing these images to as wide an audience as possible” explained Ceridwen.

Some of the participants for the project are studying at Coleg Cambria.  Paul Raven, Deputy Director – Landbased & Independent Living Skills said:

“Getting involved in this project has enabled our entry level students to showcase the excellent vocational skills that they are developing on courses at our Northop site. Within the video presentations the students have also been able to talk about their courses, their lives, and their hopes for the future. I am delighted that a selection of our learners with additional learning needs have had the opportunity to be involved in this interesting and creative project which highlights the skills and potential that all of our students have.”

This project is being supported by Flintshire County Council, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, North Wales Social Care & Well-being Services Improvement Collaborative Wales and the Welsh Government through the ICF Learning Disabilities & Complex Needs Fund.

A spokesperson for the Improvement Collective who managed grant distribution said: “Welsh Government wanted to see innovation from agencies within this grant. “We can..” certainly promises that. Congratulations to Same but Different in winning their award. The results are eagerly anticipated.”

If you would like to display the exhibition at your event or in an organization, they can contact Same but Different via email on enquiries@samebutdifferentcic.org.uk.

More information and the exhibition is available via the website www.samebutdifferentcic.org.uk/we-can.

Photo credit: Ceridwen Hughes Photography

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