CHILDREN came together to participate in an animation project delivered by award-winning arts charity - Create.

Create’s creative:connection programme enabled pupils from Dilkes Academy and Beacon Hill Academy, both in nSouth Ockendon, to work collaboratively, build trusting relationships with each other while developing their creativity, social skills and confidence.

Beacon Hill is an academy for pupils aged two to 19 who have severe and complex learning difficulties. The pupils worked with Create’s professional filmmaker Aoife Twomey to produce animated films using clay, inspired by their own original ideas.

The young people’s art work was showcased in a final presentation to an audience of staff and students from both schools.

A pupil from Dilkes Academy, who took part in the project, said: “It was really fun working with the students from Beacon Hill because even though they have a different life, they can still do the same as us.

“They really inspire me because they all try their best and don’t give up. The project made me feel like I could do whatever I want with the right tools, because all you needed was a computer with a camera, a mic, some pieces of paper and playdough.”

Creative:connection encourages the development of positive attitudes among young people through the experience of collaborative expression, enabling children with and without disabilities to come together to make art with those who have disabilities.

By bringing them together, the stereotypes, misconceptions and anxieties that reinforce social barriers can be broken down. creative:connection gives young people the opportunity to develop empathy, social skills, confidence, self-esteem and creativity.

Create’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, said: “The opportunities in place for young people from mainstream and special schools to come together can be infrequent. We designed creative:connection to change this. As well as the confidence and creativity that young people gain from working collaboratively during the workshops, the shared understanding that they develop can be carried with them through to adulthood.”

A report released by the Council for Disabled Children estimated that while the number of children in England with disabilities who have complex needs has risen by 50 per cent since 2004, the proportion who qualify for specialist local authority care has fallen.