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Supporting adults with learning disabilities through immersive workshops

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For part 2 of the Arts Crafts and Dignity in Care EU project, Superact artists and others have been continuing their “immersive training” to enable them to better work with adults living with learning disabilities.

Superact Storyteller, Stu Packer reflected on his latest instalment of training in Belgium:

“Arriving at Morsele was like a friends reunion. Working and collaborating with people who care (small c and big C) is refreshing, stimulating and food for the heart.

“We got down to business with Katie Bennett of Partners in Care expertly and lovingly introducing and facilitating the concept of the Real Experience in sTimul to the attending artists. Musicians and Storytellers from Belgium, France, Netherlands and the UK were present.

Much discussion, wonder and anticipation. How can a, let's face it, fake Real Experience help artists to be more compassionate and caring with empathy? Good fair question.

I cannot put the answer in to words. One simply has to walk the path of this experience to understand. It's an inner thing - a personal transformation - some say a paradigm shift.

With me was Phil Tucker of The Laurels Day Care Centre in Chard. Phil is a Support Worker and organises events for the end beneficiaries at The Laurels; Phil is a can do man, very pragmatic, he's a big teddy bear too.

Having had the experience of the sTimul experiment some 4 weeks before, I was excited and looking forward to getting stuck in. This is deep emotional role play - i'm an actor - nuff said. Phil, on the other hand, was not looking forward to it. After reading the program back at home, he decided he didn't want to go. Others in Superact know his worth, his value and therefore what his contribution would be. He was persuaded to go.

I am so glad he did. So glad.

Phil's chosen character was of a happy disposition and slightly touchy-feely with very little to say; he had based him on two people he knows. My character had had a stroke, has a very short-term memory and has large mood swings. As an actor this is a dream to portray. Personally though, it had a profound effect on me.

Both Phil and I (and all the artists) were changed after this experience. The Real Experience can't be 100% real, but it's as real as it can get. Along with Dutch Student Social Workers who were our care givers, we were in role for nearly 7 hours on Monday 15th December.

You can find out more about the ACDC project at creatinginclusion.eu