St. Vincent’s School for Sensory Impairment and Liverpool Hope University Significant research indicates low participation rates in community activities from amongst visually impaired (VI) young people. In 2017 SCOPE research highlighted two thirds of VI people felt moderately or severely cut off from society whilst simultaneously, two thirds of the public felt uncomfortable when talking to people with disabilities.
VI young people (and adults) can be vulnerable and subjected to bullying. There is a need for inclusive practices and community partnerships (UN SDG 17 ‘partnerships for the goals’) to address this position across age ranges and diverse communities. A Community partnership between Merseyside Police, St. Vincent’s school for sensory impairment and Liverpool Hope University is evidenced through the generation of a comic during the Hate Crime week in 2018. The comic frames a significant amount of teaching and learning opportunities supported by Merseyside Police and student teachers which can be delivered at school level using the comic as the medium.
This project is developing further with other comics highlighted and featuring community cohesion as attached to the UN SDGS storylines and those ‘difficult to have’ conversations moving forwards into 2020 The comics have been shared with learning networks for inclusion in Social Moral Spiritual and Cultural Lessons (Citizenship) and are adaptable for different school communities via a surround curriculum and shared online at .
As a concept, the comics have been shared with student teachers at Liverpool Hope University to use as part of their pre-service teaching and learning experience during teaching practice. Placing VI pupils as part of the community through this medium sets the scene for wider inclusive practices breaking down barriers faced by visually impaired young people.
‘The Search for Ranma One Half’ was the first comic book to utilise the skills of Mr. Benbow as both a Mobility Instructor and as an author (Harrison F. Carter).
Working with one of his Mobility students - Joe - Mr. Benbow identified from Joe’s Individual Mobility Programme an opportunity for Joe to undertake a specific leisure objective that pertained to Joe’s interests outside of school. Joe had a real interested in ‘anime’ (a Japanese term for animation) and Manga cartoons, so Mr. Benbow produced a story and a programme of Mobility objectives that could be used to produce a comic book to document Joe’s progress and ‘adventure’.
Over the course of six weeks, Joe practiced and developed Mobility skills to enable him to travel safely with the long cane, use a train, visit an out of town shopping centre, use a café, practice money and communication skills and, ultimately, journey to Liverpool city centre. During this period, Joe’s confidence grew considerably, and – once the objective and the comic was finished and printed - he was so very proud of what he had achieved, and that he now had his own personalised comic book adventure to showcase his efforts.
Joe’s parents and family were equally proud, and really enjoyed seeing what he had been working on, and of how much he had enjoyed it. Upon receiving several copies of the comic for the family, Joe’s mum wrote to share her pride: “Hi Mr. Benbow - we just wanted to thank you for making this book with Joe - it is amazing!! I will be taking it with us to Joe’s prospective college when we visit to show it to them. Thanks again!” Deborah.
‘Save the trees!’ A Terracotta Army Story
Written by author, Harrison F. Carter, and produced with the pupils of his creative writing group at St Vincent’s.
In 2018, a rare and privileged exhibition of the ‘Terracotta Army’ was launched at Liverpool’s World Museum. As part of the author’s advocacy of the United Nations programme of Sustainable Development Goals – and following a visit to the United Nations in Geneva with Dr. John Patterson – the author produced a story that invited his creative writing group to undertake a project that would combine the visit of the Terracotta Army with a critical environmental concern … the protection of the planet’s trees.
The group really engaged with the story; it was a real journey of learning, with the students discovering the human-made nature of the problem of deforestation, and the introduction to some ways to try and alleviate the problem. The group embraced the scope of the project wholeheartedly and thoroughly enjoyed the production stage of the comic.
Upon completion of the comic book, we then arranged for it to be translated into Mandarin Chinese and presented copies to Chinese dignitaries who were visiting the city as part of the Terracotta Army exhibition. A copy of this version can be found using the links below.
The completed production can be enjoyed by clicking on the link below, and further information can be traced through the Twitter pages of @InCreativeMind and @StVincentsL12. The original story, the comic book and other bodies of work by the pupils can be read online at: http://www.creativityinmind.org and http://www.stvin.com.
We hope that you will follow along and enjoy the creative journey.
St Vincent's has made collaborations with its comics in China and Indonesia. The academic year 2019-20 will develop a new story line in collaboration with VI pupils in Indonesia and student teachers at Liverpool Hope University for use across Merseyside during 'Enrichment'. The SMSC focus will use the best practice developed in making the 'Hate Crime' comic with Merseyside Police where we are proud of Elliott's follow up lectures on those 'difficult to have conversations'
To The right we have Eliott who was able to speak about his comic and own personal challenges at the Hope University 'Dialogue and Philosophy for Challenging Extremism and Promoting Social Cohesion' Conference.
St Vincent's has made collaborations with its comics in China and Indonesia. The academic year 2019-20 will develop a new story line in collaboration with VI pupils in Indonesia and student teachers at Liverpool Hope University.