Rebel Play - Positive Memories Wanted

I love play! I loved playing as a child, and as a young adult I loved discovering Playwork and making play my job. Now I love being an aunty and playing with my niece and nephew. Play is a big part of who I am and it’s a central part of how we make art at Touretteshero.

But playing as a disabled person isn’t always easy, and many disabled children and adults experience significant barriers to play. I’ve written before about the way playgrounds can be ‘monuments to exclusion’, and how they’re one of the first places where disabled children learn to expect a worse experience than their non-disabled peers. Over the years there have been many articles and campaigns to try and change this, including here, here and here. And while there are pockets of good practice, change is painfully slow.

As a team, most of whom have a background in inclusive play, we’ve been thinking about what we could do to help speed this up. Our answer is Rebel Play, a new, multi-year project I’m delighted to be launching with this post.

The logo for Touretteshero's Rebel Play project the words Rebel Play are written in block capitals, outlined in black, behind the text just colourful bars in different primary and bright colours, inspired by the painted wooden planks on adventure playgrounds

Rebel Play is an intergenerational, disabled-led, practice-based research project which will collect and share the positive play experiences of disabled children and adults.

We know there are lots of barriers but we’re pretty sure disabled people are finding creative ways to play, despite the lack of infrastructure and support – we want to understand this better, to share the knowledge, and use it to inspire new accessible play opportunities.

Rebel Play will start by asking disabled children and adults to share a ‘positive play memory’ with us, a time when you played in a way that felt joyful. These interviews will be turned into an archive of ‘how we play’, and then we’ll commission disabled artists to create new play activities and experiences in response. These will then be shared at a series of playful events.

We’re seeking disabled people who are up for contributing their ‘positive play memory’. This can be from whenever, from 50 years or five minutes ago!

Here are some things it might be useful to know if you’re interested in taking part:

• When we say ‘disabled’ we mean anyone who experiences disabling barriers in the world. This includes deaf, disabled, neurodivergent, Mad and chronically ill people.
• The interviews will happen in May and June 2024 – we’ll find a time that works for you.
• We can tailor the interview to meet your access requirements – it doesn’t have to mean speaking verbally, and it’s fine for someone familiar with you to help you contribute
• Most interviews will be online, but they can potentially be in person if this makes access easier.
• The interviews will all be conducted by disabled people.
• Contributors will all receive a £50 voucher to invest in their own play and leisure time.
• We’re looking for disabled adults of all ages, including parent and carers as well as disabled children and young people.

To make sure we represent people with a range of impairments and backgrounds we’ll be selecting the people we interview. There’s a simple expression of interest form below and we’ll let everyone know if they’ve been selected for interview or not. Everyone who expresses interest will be invited to the free Rebel Play events.

We know lots of non-disabled parents and carers are passionate about play too and we’d love you to support your deaf, disabled, neurodivergent or chronically ill child to contribute. It’s also fine for disabled parents and carers to talk about their non-disabled children too, but we won’t be interviewing non-disabled people about their positive play memories.

Easy-read information about Rebel Play can be found here.
The online expression of interest form is here
The deadline is Friday 26th April 2024.

Please help us by spreading the word. If you know someone you think might have a playful experience to share, or any networks who you think should know about Rebel Play, please let them know.

Rebel Play is about learning more about disabled joy, creativity, and ingenuity. We’re keen to build knowledge and make sure this is accessible to our communities. We’re right at the start of this new adventure and we’re so excited about where it’ll lead. We hope you’ll join us on the journey.

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