‘Sounds Wild’ offers children and young adults with special needs exploratory interactive sessions in the natural world, combining music and nature to inspire and instil a sense of wonder and appreciation of the natural environment.
In the summer term of 2014, fifty pupils with a range of severe physical and learning disabilities from six local special schools were involved in an exciting project which enabled each one to explore and experience the natural world in an environment which drew upon the power of sound, silence and music to inspire and motivate them.
The project was devised and developed by Sue Simmonds and Felicity Corbyn of Soundabout in collaboration with staff at the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), and took place at the BBOWT Environmental Education Centre and Nature Reserves at College Lake in Buckinghamshire and Sutton Courtenay in Oxfordshire.
Sounds Wild stems from a recognition of the benefit that children and adults with disabilities derive from music and the natural world and a wish to make this an integral part of their lives.
Research shown by Gillian Thomas and Guy Thompson in ‘A Child's Place and Why Environment Matters to Children’ in ‘A Green Alliance / Demos Report’ in May 2004 highlights the fact that a child’s environment and well being are ‘inextricably linked’. Their findings show how many children no longer have access to high quality natural environments and so are deprived of the natural benefits that nature provides.
Sounds Wild is about empowering each child or young adult to be an active participant enabling them to influence the music and the content of what happens and to have a motivating and enjoyable experience. Activities include:
- lying on blankets under the trees listening to bird song or the wind in the trees,
- working together to create shelters in which to compose music and improvise songs,
- making and playing instruments to create our own orchestra,
- creating rhythms and songs which express their experiences,
- using vocal sounds and call and response activities for hide and seek and
- exploration of a range of natural materials through touch and smell and creating a range of art work.
- and much more
Staff have observed improvements in mobility and well-being, greater independence and social and communication skills.
“K loved being out in the fresh air surrounded by nature, using all of his senses. He was happy and responded to the adults and children around him.”
We have also been able to provide staff on-site training in running Sounds Wild sessions both with and without pupils.
Our experience has confirmed our belief that there is great potential in this project for designing a package to suit each school, their specific needs, themes and subject areas without compromising the Soundabout Sounds Wild purpose and philosophy. We hope that the project will become embedded in the Special Schools Curriculum. We expect it continue to grow and expect more schools to book Sounds Wild and find ways use their own local environments.