Autism Awareness Week: Bridging the Gap at The Atkinson

Autism Awareness: Bridging the Gap

A young girl running with a ribbon on a primary school playground with teachers, parents and pupils eagerly sat watching.
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Autism Awareness Week: Bridging the Gap at The Atkinson

In the lead up to Autism Awareness week, we have been curious about how cultural venues can better support young people and families with autism. Conversations led us to The Atkinson, a multi-arts venue in Southport, which has been working for the past two-years to develop its building and programme to better support and include visitors with autism.

Volunteer and Skills Development Officer, Jemma Tynan, tells us more about their autism friendly projects...

"Last year we ran the 'Imaging Autism' arts project for children and young people, and were proud to open the Great Little Place Café, run by Autism Initiatives.

"For the past six-months, The Atkinson has been working on an additional project, called Bridging the Gap. This project aims to further develop our offer for younger visitors with autism, through developing inclusive arts activities, working with local schools and developing a ‘quiet space’ within the building as a place to retreat and relax.

"We have been working with local inclusive artists, Jade French and Laura Pullig, as well as The Atkinson’s own Inclusion Volunteers. Laura has worked with several local SEND schools to develop a range of exciting free inclusive activities to be delivered at our venue. Jade has worked to train the volunteers, which included a research visit to the award winning Blue Room project, an inclusive arts studio based at Bluecoat n Liverpool. Together, Jade and Laura have worked to design a quiet space, named ‘The Hideout’, which is located on our museum landing, within the woodland section and features calming projections, sensory toys and a quiet reading area.

"The new area has been open to the public during Autism Awareness Week."

Make a note in your diary to hear more about The Atkinson's programmes and others at a Curious Minds event on 15th June 2018:

‘Curious about … Relaxed performances, venues and Autism'

This event aims to kick start a regional conversation about efforts made by several venues across the region to offer 'relaxed' performances, or to become ‘autism friendly’. It will also discuss the role of arts and culture in the lives of young people and families with autism.

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