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> > > Caroline Cardus' artwork from the Driving Inspiration project

Driving Inspiration

By Vicky-Hope Walker from Creative Bucks

Driving Inspiration is a collaboration between disabled artists, Paralympians and disabled and non-disabled young people. The project that was created by Creative Bucks in 2006, in liaison with WheelPower Sports, the national wheelchair sports charity, and the managers of Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympics.

Driving Inspiration is about telling the stories of the Paralympics and Paralympians through dance/theatre, visual arts, creative writing, music and film, and the personal journeys of the disabled artists. It is about inspiring young disabled and non-disabled people to identify and fulfil their own dreams.

The key vision behind Driving Inspiration is to: ‘Create a legacy that celebrates the birthplace of the Paralympics, and raises the profile of the disability cultural sector in schools and communities in Buckinghamshire and beyond’.

During 2007 and 2008 Driving Inspiration ran a series of pilot projects, working with schools across the county which had been identified through the education authority for their inclusive policy and learning needs status. The partner of the project also expanded to include Bucks 2012 Group, Dada-South and Disability Arts Online.

A simple pilot project was organised in 2007 for one day in each school. The day included an assembly led by a Paralympian, art and dance/theatre workshops run by disabled artists.  One day alone made a difference and changed the lives of the individuals involved. As a result of the work, the young people became involved in the Paralympic handover ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

In 2008 a three-way interview process was introduced where by the young people could ask questions of the Paralympians and artists, and the Paralympians and artists could rebound the question back to the young people. This led to some wonderful conversations all of which were digitally recorded. Each school had a day of art with Rachel Gadsden and Caroline Cardus, combined with a day of the Paralympians devising inclusive games, developing sports skills and learning about their lives.

This was followed a week by a day with Signdance Collective, using the visual art work to inspire dances which were performed to audiences at the end of the sessions.

Here are some stunning images made with the school children with disabled artist Caroline Cardus that capture the creativity and fun behind Driving Inspiration.