Learning & Access in Bejing

September 8, 2008 at 11:56 am (General Information, Learning & Access) (, , , , , , )

Following the success of their visit in December, the Learning & Access department have returned to Beijing as part of the British Council’s Young Advocates Programme – developing the Paralympic Spirit.  Organised by the British Council and the China Disabled Person’s Federation, the week long forum involves 240 disabled and able-bodied young people, aged 18 – 25 from China, Great Britain and across the globe taking part in activities to ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­empower them to be leaders in their communities and develop the Paralympic Spirit.

Dance Education Officers Sophie Alder and Caroline Burn, along with musician Bill Laurance will be leading dance workshops with a group of 30 young people with a range of experience and abilities, with the aim of increasing their confidence, communication and leadership skills, and creating a dance piece to be performed in a showcase at the end of the forum.

Learning & Access Co-ordinator, Jo Dean, will be sending us updates throughout the week.

Arriving in Beijing on Saturday after a long flight, we just had time to drop off our bags before we were ushered straight into the main hall to meet the young people and listen to their aims for the forum.  The afternoon was spent familiarising ourselves with the space we will be working in, which is an amazing hall, complete with a grand piano and selection of instrumentsfor Bill!

After an early dinner, everyone on the project was taken to the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.  The stadium is an incredible structure and the atmosphere inside was fantastic, particularly when the Chinese athletes were introduced! The ceremony involved some spectacular dances with many thousands of dancers, as well as music, aerial acrobats and fireworks, and much flag waving by the crowd. The President of China having officially opened the Games and the flame having been lit, we were struggling with jet lag and were very happy to get into our beds.

Today (Sunday) was the first day of workshops, so we finally got to meet the group we will be working with.  After introductions and the warm up, the participants were straight into learning a short sequence which they then, working in small groups, adapted and developed into a short piece.  Numerous photographers and members of the press have been in and out of the workshop today, all eager to see what the group is doing and find out how the able-bodied and disabled people are able work together in dance.  At the end of the workshops today there will be a party for all the young advocates, so it will be a chance for us to find out what everyone else has been doing in their first day of workshops.





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