Spring into Sound 'where friendships are sprung'
Little hands are rubbing together quietly as our groups 'seedlings' (pre-school children) start off this weeks rhythm game. As I move along the line, they are joined by 'oaks' (their parents) and 'great oaks' (older people) as we work our way through the sounds needed to build up a rainstorm. Out of the blue, one of our great oaks starts to exclaim that it sounds like a downpour, he seems entirely unable to contain himself, simply repeating what he feels, amazement. When he first started the project, James (pseudonym) seemed uncomfortable looking into your eyes and stated that he didn't like nature. Four months later and he has made woodland faeries, swung in a hammock, sampled homemade elderflower cordial and helped to provide a sense of intergenerational community. Interestingly when we started this project in the spring, the aim was to reduce social isolation amongst our older participants who had come to us through Time to Talk Befriending. Our project evaluation however clearly shows that the great oaks were by no means the only ones feeling a sense of isolation with a number of parents stating they sought out the group in part for social contact. Participant feedback ranged from determined calls for the project to continue to statements that intergenerational contact should be the norm. In our modern world where families are often spread over thousands of miles and across oceans, what can we do to pull a sense of extended family around ourselves? Our answer was to bring pre-school children, their parents and older people together in the woods to engage in outdoor activities with a focus on sound. The work was a collaboration between Bee in the Woods Forest School, Time to Talk Befriending and ourselves Unite The Beat. We now have the exciting task of filtering through all the sounds recorded during the project to compose a unique piece of music which will be screened at a get together later in the year. A chance for all to come together again and reignite relationships, share memories and bask in the output of their play. James's story is one of many, with all of our great oaks showing signs of transformation throughout the project, whether that was gaining the confidence to walk around, or simply settling into the swing of our little woodland community. Spring into sound has been a great learning experience for all and been cited as follows 'Spring into Sound, where friendships are sprung'.