02 October 2019 | Scotland
Brilliant charity helping people with disabilities through the arts
Greg Brands is happiest when he’s dancing. He doesn’t have a favourite song, any track will get him up showing his best moves.
And being in front of an audience doesn’t faze him, nor leading a group in a new routine.
The 26-year-old has learning disabilities, but doesn’t let that stop him. He attends a charity called Create four days a week, who strive to give Greg and others the kinds of opportunities they might otherwise miss out on.
Based in Aberdeen, Create is a charity that has a mission to promote community inclusion, participation and equal access to activities for adults with learning and physical disabilities, a group who tend to be among the most socially deprived. They work with around 90-100 people a week aged between 18 and 55.
At Create they can develop confidence, skills, creativity and develop social relationships with a programme of arts-based activities across three local community centres, including drama, dance, music, percussion, art, cooking and photography. There are story-telling and puppetry and drumming workshops and seated yoga classes.
Greg has been coming here for eight years and attends up to four days a week. His mum Corinne says his confidence has grown dramatically since he started coming to sessions. With the group’s outreach team they even visit local schools and old people’s homes to perform.
At the centre he attends, Greg also volunteers, helping lay out equipment for sessions and organising the younger ones.
He says: “I like everything about coming, it makes me happy. But I like to sing and dance best. When I first started coming I was shy. But now my confidence is much better and I have made lots of friends.”
Corinne, 56, adds: “He has learnt a sense of responsibility and also how to work as part of a team. He has also learnt how to be a good teacher, and likes to teach the younger ones. He can choreograph a dance and then show the others. He is also a good drummer and guitarist, another activity that Create provides. We feel very blessed to have them in our lives.”
Alex Constantinides, Service Development Manager at the charity says: “Greg is definitely a big personality at Create. He even recently won a Community Champion award from the Scottish Commission of Learning Disabilities.
“He loves the dance sessions best. We have around 30 kids come along for a two-hour session every week. They come with their families and their support workers. People with and without disabilities, all enjoying the session together. We are all on an equal platform.”
Create is a TSB Community Fund winner, and the bank is supporting them to build a new sensory garden, designed, created and maintained by participants at the centre.
Create will also run a gardening group, led by an experienced tutor.
This project will also provide volunteering opportunities for local people who can offer their time, skills and advice on gardening and make connections with people with learning disabilities in the group.