Each year, during the month of June, we have a chance to celebrate the lives of people with a learning disability throughout a week of awareness activity and promotion. This years theme is on the arts and creativity, and is a great opportunity for us all to stop and think about the things that enrich our own lives and how we can use creativity and the arts to boost and enhance the lives of others, in particular those with a learning disability (as it is their week!) but everyone else too.
Without a doubt this last year has been a challenge for us all, but for those who have a learning disability, and for their families, the pandemic has presented a raft of difficulties that we have not had to face before including the closure of services, restrictions upon lives that have been hard to understand and comply with, loneliness, loss and bereavement, poor health to name but a few. The health risks faced by the learning-disabled population are already far greater than those faced by many others, and the Covid 19 virus has just added to those risks, increasing the vulnerabilities of this group hugely. It is estimated that the rate of people with a learning disability dying from Covid 19 is 3-4 times the rate in the general population.
Despite all of this, the pandemic has taught us all to be more appreciative of the simple things in life, and has encouraged us to be more creative with our time and our space. There are two particular things that come to my mind when I think about how I have tuned into my creative side during the lockdown. One is the creative way I have accessed exercise classes during this time, resulting in me exercising more in the last year than I have ever done in my life, and actually enjoying it! There is nothing like an early morning salsa or Zumba class to set me up for the day and make me feel good about myself. The second is the coaching qualification I have obtained during the pandemic, opening up coaching opportunities for me that were not there before. The development of my coaching skills has certainly tapped into my creative self in a way that has surprised me. And I am aware that both of these newly aroused creative streaks within me are being tapped into and used to good effect when I work with people who have a learning disability. This makes me smile, encourages me to recognise and appreciate my own creativity, and reminds me of the many ways that we at The Wellbeing Collective utilise our creative selves in our delivery of services to others.
If this is how I feel from a few moments of self-reflection upon the arts and creativity, just imagine the possibilities for people with a learning disability…
Carol Bailey – TWBC