Spreading joy on the streets of South Bristol

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A recent grant to Flamingo Chicks helped children with multiple disabilities enjoy some much-needed post-Covid fun.

In August 2021 we awarded Flamingo Chicks £4,486.50 to involve children with disabilities in Smoosh, a street music and dance event, in partnership with the Paraorchestra and New Fosseway Special School.

“Disabled children are too often excluded from opportunities and instead this event welcomed them with open arms”

Katie Sparkes, CEO Flamingo Chicks:

“This project provided a once in a life-time opportunity for the children and families we work with to not only access live music, dance, and performance, but to be a central part of it – collaborating with professional musicians and dancers, their peers, and the local community who came to support them along the way!

“From our sessions in school to the performance itself, feedback showed a shared sense of value and belonging amongst everyone involved, providing a vital opportunity for our children to showcase their skills.

“Disabled children are too often excluded from opportunities and instead this event welcomed them with open arms, celebrating each individual child’s contribution and achievements and sharing in their joy with their families and the community. The impact of this opportunity has provided a much-needed boost for our children and families, particularly in this time of moving beyond Covid-19, where they could so easily be left behind due to their increased risk. Instead, a safe, happy, and magical experience was created for them and the boost to their happiness and self esteem will be felt well beyond this project.”

“This grant brought a profound sense of joy, belonging, and connection to the disabled children and families we work with.”

-Katie Sparkes CEO Flamingo Chicks

The children worked with Bristol-based Paraorchestra, the world’s only large-scale virtuoso ensemble of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians.

The event was the culmination of Flamingo Chick’s project at New Fosseway school where children learnt about orchestras, music, and sound through dance and storytelling.

The live event was watched by hundreds of local people, who celebrated the children by clapping and waving flags from balcony’s, doors, windows and the streets.

“This grant particularly enabled the disabled community to unite and despite perceptions, show that they have a great deal to say! Our Chicks (some non-verbal) spoke to the general public through the platform of dance and music. Through the power of music and dance, the children felt free and given a voice. The community of Knowle West, local to the school, banded together with the children by clapping, dancing and waving flags. Everybody danced, wiggled, moved, sang or smiled, on the streets and from windows. The children were celebrated. This was just a great human cohesion and a reminder that children, no matter their ability, have a say in their communities and beyond. After 18 months of distancing and isolating due to Covid, this was tonic to the community.”

A mother of one of the children involved:

“C loved every minute! She has never seen instruments up close and personal like that, and for the Paraorchestra to take time to come and show the children was amazing. C struggles a lot with walking for long distances but loved every moment of the walk, listening to the music and performing with Flamingo Chicks. Thank you for the amazing experience, C loved it.”

Flamingo Chicks at Smoosh