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Accentuate Medal 6: Accentuate Gives Young People a Voice!

In the three years since it was launched, Accentuate has succeeded in giving young Deaf and disabled people a voice and an opportunity to share their opinions through creative thinking.

Two projects in particular helped Accentuate achieve its vision, the ground breaking, award winning, uScreen website and the Campaign! initiative, which encouraged young people to express their views on key issues – through film, animation, theatre, dance and art exhibitions.

By supporting the development of the uScreen website, Accentuate has made online film-making truly accessible. The site has introduced cutting edge technology to enable young deaf and disabled people (and non-disabled people) to express their views and share their thoughts through film-making. Not only does it feature free accessible group editing and storyboarding tools, it enables members to add British Sign Language, subtitles, visual captioning and audio descriptions.

Delivered and developed by Screen South, uScreen was launched with a programme of live workshops and screenings alongside training and professional mentoring sessions. uScreen members learn by creating online at home or at school, in their youth club or at film festivals. To date there have been over 10,000 unique visitors to the site, and as at August 2012 uScreen counts 1118 members from 24 countries, with 183 completed films uploaded and 499 clips currently being edited.

The legacy of uScreen will continue as young people discover and join the website to make, show and share their films and ideas.  uScreen will also be further developed and supported in the second phase of Accentuate in 2013.   Accentuate Young Voices will utlise uScreen as a mechanism for enabling young people to influence Accentuate as it grows in 2013, along with ensuring they continue to have a voice within debates about the Heritage of Deaf and disabled people and the ambitions for the future.

One of the most significant outcomes of uScreen has been its ability to provide access to new career paths, which hitherto might have seemed out of reach. After taking part in one of the uScreen programmes, disabled young person Stephanie Howell commented “uScreen has helped me get across what I’ve been wanting to say and how I have felt for years…uScreen made me feel that I have a voice.”

uScreen is one of the outstanding successes of the Accentuate programme.  Not only is it of interest to deaf and disabled people, it has brought people with a passion for film-making together, regardless of backgrounds. The site counts actor David Proud among its patrons and was championed by actor, writer and comedian Stephen Fry following its launch in 2011. It went on to win 'The Interactive Media Award 2011' at the Ability Media International awards and also reached the semi-finals of the Best Arts Project at the 2011 National Lottery Awards.  Visit to find out more and don’t forget to tell your friends!

Whilst uScreen was being created, Accentuate worked with Creative Junction and launched Campaign!, a programme designed to celebrate the collaboration between disabled young people in the South East with those from both within the UK and abroad. Participants worked together to raise awareness on issues that affected them in their respective countries, and addressed the need to provide equity of access to ideas as well as physical access, doing so through live and online experiences.

In all, the project engaged around 300 young people to deliver 11 campaigns, and was supported by Parliamentary Outreach at the Houses of Parliament, which works to promote the role, relevance and function of Parliament in people's lives today. Young people identified what they wanted to work on and with the help of artists were able to express their thoughts through film, animation, theatre, dance and art exhibitions. The work was then disseminated and shared with MPs, schools, libraries, and museums.

One example is a campaign led by the performing arts company, Signdance Collective.  This international disabled led touring company devised a piece of sign dance communicating the young people’s ideas and values. Over 100 deaf and disabled young people collaborated to form the ideas for this campaign which involved performances at a shopping centre in Folkestone and an arts centre in High Wycombe.  It then went on to tour and work with young people internationally.

Many young people have developed significantly as a result of the opportunities arising from the Campaign! project, including Hillie Thomason. Hillie was one of the young people involved in the Campaign! project at Arbour Vale School. She became the Campaign! ‘Our View Rep’ and attended events at Channel 4 and the Houses of Parliament. She produced a film about the project, linking up with campaigns in other schools to interview the students and artists involved.

Said Hillie: ‘I enjoy being an Our View Rep, I got to help people who are different; I want to help other people whenever I can. It doesn’t matter if you are disabled or blind, because we are all as one. I remember when I started school I couldn't talk, so thank you to everyone who helped me get stronger and confident in this project.’ 

Delivered by Creative Junction, Campaign! leaves a legacy of young people with broadened horizons, new skills, and enhanced global awareness and connectedness. By actively promoting the Olympic values of ‘excellence, respect and friendship’, the project broadened the international outlook of young people in the region and encouraged in their development the qualities of openness, understanding, enquiry, equality and cooperation.

A Campaign participant said , “we have a voice and we are important” whilst another commented ‘I feel like I have a voice, there are times when I think that because I’m in a chair no one is going to listen to me, I was bullied in the past, but this project has brought out a bit of me and brought out my confidence. Making me believe I can do stuff and that people will listen to me.’

Accentuate is the London 2012 Legacy Programme for the South East.  Accentuate has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK, SEEDA and the Regional Cultural Agencies. The home of Accentuate is Screen South.

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