Image shown: Pop Up Picnic workshop at Engaging the Senses symposium

Engaging the Senses is a symposium and gathering with conversation, demonstrations, and playtime workshops for parents and arts, healthcare and early years professionals interested in exploring multi-sensory, creative play through the arts for very young children with complex needs. Led by Helium Arts in partnership with The Civic, Tallaght, Engaging the Senses is taking place on 18 September 2019.

This symposium is informed by The Civic’s current exploration and development in this area of work in South Dublin County Council with outcomes and learning from Helium Arts’ Pop Up Picnic and Anna Newell’s Sing Me to The Sea, both multi-sensory performance projects for children with complex needs.

Who is this symposium for? 

ArtistsThis symposium aims to support theatre practitioners and musicians who are already creating work for children to begin to develop their practice into the area of multi-sensory work which is relevant not only to children with complex needs but also to young children in general.

Health professionals / carers: This symposium aims to inspire health professionals working in early intervention services, disability services, public health nursing and other health settings. We will discuss the impact of multi-sensory performance techniques on young children with complex needs and their families and we will consider how multi-sensory performance experiences might be incorporated into a variety of health services.

Early years professionalsThis symposium aims to inspire early childhood professionals to learn about creative tools and how to make their early years practice inclusive.

Parents: This symposium aims to engage parents in conversation around their experiences, ideas, and wishes regarding cultural access for their children.

Other Stakeholders: This symposium will be of interest to funders, local activists, local council members, policy makers, researchers, arts centres and children’s cultural institutions.

Attendees can book one morning workshop of their choice and one afternoon workshop of their choice:

  • Practical workshop: Joanna Williams and Niamh Lawlor from Pop Up Picnic will explore how attendees can engage multiple senses when developing early years work.
  • Workshop with Anna Newell: Anna will bring participants through a taster of her theatre making process for both early years and children with complex needs.
  • Workshop with Margaret McGrath, Senior Occupational Therapist, Enable Ireland: Margaret will share her process of supporting and facilitating play, from an OT perspective, and how to structure sensory experiences.
  • Workshop with Eileen Birchall, Lynn Byrne – Sensory Fun with Friends: Eileen and Lynn from Sensory Fun With Friends will explore the journey of acceptance, compassion and understanding in the world of additional needs.

Tickets are free but must be booked in advance.
Booking and programme information:

Engaging the Senses symposium is funded by the Arts Council and Creative Ireland. 


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