PROJECT IMPACT: HEADSTARTS
Enactus UCD has run a franchise of HeadstARTS in the university for over one year, providing arts classes for people with intellectual disabilities. We have partnered with St Michael's House, Goatstown, to provide the classes which take place on a 6-week module basis in UCD every semester. St. Michael’s House (SMH) provides a comprehensive range of services and supports to men, women, and children with intellectual disabilities and their families in 170 locations in the greater Dublin Area, with their Goatstown location being the closest of those locations to UCD.
To date, two arts modules have taken place in conjunction with SMH in UCD. Six participants from SMH are transported to UCD by two care workers from the centre to take part in the classes, and before classes start, the participants are offered a complimentary lunch or tea/coffee break and meet with the UCD student volunteers to socialise. This is an important part of the programme for the participants from SMH; integration with the community is an important part of the ethos of SMH and for the service users.
After chatting with the participants and asking them about their week, we start the art activity for that week. Before each programme begins, a curriculum is prepared by the volunteers and sets out week-by-week what activities are planned. At the start of each class, we begin with a short presentation explaining what the activity for this week is. Each activity is themed, for example for Valentine's Day, we explained the story of St Valentine, and spoke about how Valentine's Day was a day to appreciate loved ones. The volunteers work with the participants on an individual basis, and after the class is finished, we take pictures of the artwork of the week. Each six-week module is finished by organising a cinema visit, which we have found is a nice way to close-out the programme and gives the volunteers and participants an opportunity to say goodbye at the end of the programme.
To date, twelve service users have taken part in the six-week programme in UCD, and another six-week module is taking place after our midterm break with another six service users. The next module will be adapting to fit the needs of the service users of SMH by introducing a new 'current awareness' programme for the participants of the programme. We have identified that there are very limited and accessible news and current affair resources available for people with intellectual disabilities, and will be implementing a weekly workshop where we work alongside the service users to identify the most important news of that week, and then preparing a short newsletter "The Alternative Times", that will be distributed by our partners SMH to similar centres that also work with people with intellectual disabilities every week. We are excited to be implementing a new and innovative development to the project, and are looking forward to working with St Michael's House again later this semester!