Image shown: Helium Arts' Pop Up Picnic. Photo credit: Brian Cregan.

Helium Arts in partnership with Kildare County Council Arts Service is hosting a symposium and practical workshop for arts, healthcare and early years professionals interested in exploring multi-sensory, creative play through the arts for very young children with complex needs. ‘Engaging the Senses’ is taking place on Wednesday 30 May 2018 at Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge.

This event is informed by outcomes and learning from Helium Arts’ Pop Up Picnic, a multi-sensory performance project created in partnership with the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation. Tim Webb, Artistic Director of internationally acclaimed UK theatre company Oily Cart, will be the keynote speaker on the day.

Life around young children with complex needs can be consumed with the child’s intense physical needs and medical routines. As a result, the important, relaxing benefits of fun and play often have to take a back seat. Children with PMLD may respond to certain stimuli more positively than others and a multi-sensory approach allows practitioners to be guided by the child’s interaction. This symposium invites you to discover how multi-sensory performance and interactive creative play can be used to engage young children in a variety of settings.

Helium Arts’ Pop Up Picnic

On the Pop Up Picnic, artists visit families in their homes, using music, sound, puppetry, movement and tactile environments to provide families with new ways of bonding with their child. The performances are tailored for each child by performer Niamh Lawlor, musician Thomas Johnston and director Joanna Williams.

The project was developed with families in Kildare in 2016 in partnership with nurses from Jack and Jill and co-produced by Kildare County Council Arts Service within its Art, Health and Wellbeing programme. Tim Webb, Artistic Director of Oily Cart, mentored the artists in the development phase. In 2017, the Pop Up Picnic toured to family homes in Kildare and Tipperary. This year, the project will be adapted for young audiences outside the home.

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Booking for the seminar and workshop will open in late March. Details on and

Engaging the Senses symposium is produced by Helium Arts in partnership with Kildare County Council Arts Service. The symposium is funded by the Arts Council and Kildare County Council and is supported by Riverbank Arts Centre. 


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