On the 18th July, students, staff, partners and volunteers came together to celebrate the WEA Inclusive Archaeology Education project. The day began with a brief overview of the successes of the project: Collaboration, Creativity, Confidence Building and Comprehension. Nicola and Victoria talked about the importance of inspiring people to become engaged with their local heritage and how as the project progressed tutors had shown many creative ways to help students improve their comprehension of the subject through art activities, visits and discussions. They also talked about how the project would not have been possible without the amazing support of heritage bodies, groups, archaeologists and care providers and thanked them all for accompanying them of the amazing journey over the past three years.
As students started to arrive attendees were able to see many of the fabulous activities students had been able to be a part of. The High Street Showcase showed all who attended the range of activities that could be derived from looking at their local hight street be it a desk based survey for the most able to eye spy date stones for those just starting out in discovering their local heritage.
After lunch we heard from the students. How the course had inspired them to find out more about their local history and to join other local groups. How it helped them make new friends and how it had provided a safe space for them to think and try new activities. One student spoke of how it had helped him become more confident in using public transport as he had had to give up his car. He had discovered how to get a bus pass through talking to others in his group. A deaf student, spoke of the freedom he and the rest of the group had experienced in discussing heritage in their own language BSL and how they had been able to help each other because of this. All the testimonials were moving and showed how ‘Digability’ meant much more than just learning about the archaeology and the past to many of the students involved.
Our volunteers also spoke. Norma spoke movingly of her experience of overcoming her barriers to learning to becoming a classroom volunteer to help others and how much confidence the project had given her. Katie spoke of how the experience she gained from the project led her to getting her job as a Disability Officier, and Gordon spoke of how he had enjoyed the experience of passing on his knowledge to others.
To highlight all that had been learnt participants then did an activity based around 3 pictures, a woodland, an abbey and a castle. All were asked what would they like to know, how could they find out and what activities could be done at such as site. There was a real buzz in the room as everyone joined together to share their experiences. The results of which can be found here.
The day ended with thanks to everyone who had been involved in the project.