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The second day of the Hamilton youth workshop at the Ron Joyce children’s Health Centre proved to be a very special moment for Imagining Possibilities. The new program dedicated to young AAC users is another step to push the movement of inclusivity through creativity. Calum, an 11-year-old AAC user, was the first youth to attend the workshop. Although he was shy in the beginning, the older Hamilton leadership team quickly embraced the young boy.
After the greetings, it was time for the Pass the Energy activity. First, Stephen started moulding and forming the energy. Later, he threw the invisible entity to Christine, who received the energy through her body. After consuming the energy, Christine released the energy flow by directing her eyes to Layla, who likewise spread the energy to Calum. Calum received the energy but questioned what to do with it. However, after a minute of contemplation, he chose to direct the energy flow to Mariuxi.
A facilitator asked Mariuxi to describe the embodied energy. Consequently, she spoke of an energy flow connecting passed all the participants. This energy was therefore represented by placing a long red fabric forming a round shape inside the circle of participants. Then I was asked if I saw or felt anything from the circle-shaped fabric. For me, the process was more experiential than visual. Therefore, I felt the energy radiating from the fabric, almost like electric currents passing through a wire. As the story progressed, the concept of the flowing current developed into the idea of a river.
From the river idea, Calum and the other leaders chose fabrics of various hue, texture, and transparency to further develop the scene. Thus, vibrant pinks overlapped dark brown fabrics, shiny teal fabric intertwined with solid navy blue. After designing the floors of Ron Royce Hospital with various fabrics, the participants decoded the vibrant visual. Some suggested that the landscape depicted large mountains surrounded by flowing rivers. Other leaders, however, saw an abstract expressionistic painting similar to ones by Jackson Pollock.
Nonetheless, no matter the combating interpretation of the envisioned landscape, one common denominator of the event was teamwork. Indeed, all the processes of rendering the scene relied on the non-verbal interaction between the Hamilton leaders, facilitators, and the newly joined young AAC user Calum. After the first workshop, Calum was more comfortable and seemed happy to be able to meet other artists with disabilities to become part of a vibrant community.
Written by Yeshi Gyalpo. Yeshi is an intern at Imagining Possibilities.