This year’s Learning Disabilities Week (17-24 June, 2018) is all about health, with a big focus on the Treat Me Well Campaign. This aims to transform the way the NHS treats people with a learning disability in hospital.
There is much evidence that singing is good for EVERYONE’S health and wellbeing – physically, psychologically and socially.
Music for Everyone determined to offer a vocal programme – Open Voices – particularly suited to adults with learning disabilities. When the first group started in Sherwood, led by Cliff McArdle and Victoria Barlow, it wasn’t known how many people would come along or whether it would work, but they did and it does! Cliff and Vic engage the choir members in singing an enjoyable range of popular songs. Many singers know the words already, some read them from the projection and others hum along, tap their toes or sway to the music. The group has a mid-session break for a cuppa and chat.
With the success of the programme’s format in Sherwood, a second group opened in West Bridgford, and now there is a third in Beeston. Angela Kay’s younger daughter, Sarah Trevers, has joined the Open Voices music leaders’ team. Singers, volunteer helpers, carers and staff head home feeling that the world is a better place for music and friendship, and with spirits uplifted.
Here’s what Open Wings has noticed about their friends who come to sing at Sherwood Open Voices:
An individual who would never smile now carefully spreads her mouth wide shows her teeth and let’s out a little giggle. An individual who uses a wheelchair, has no verbal communication, but sits next to the piano taking in every single note the wonderful pianist plays, her eyes alight with joy. A unique individual that communicates only through verbal noises volunteering to sing a solo and being so clear when singing Hallelujah! An older man with Aspergers, joining in and singing Let’s go fly a kite, arms up in the air, and clapping his heart out to Lilly the Pink the pink the pink, and a Spoonful of sugar, as he remembered days gone by. A solo of Don’t you want me baby and another of Joseph! Absolutely wonderful to watch the joy on every single participants face.
Such is the power of music! This wonderful project has been made possible through our partnership with Open Wings and Reach and by generous donations from groups and individuals. We are delighted that Mapperley Open Gardens 2018 has made Open Voices one of its three charities this year. The East of England Singers will be singing at one of the participating gardens – 31 Richmond Drive, Sunday 8 July – to assist with the fund-raising.