SCLD was privileged to be invited along to the White Tops Centre in Dundee by Mr Jason Lyons, RSA Fellow and Multi-Sensory Storyteller with Tayberry Tales.
Jason invited us to listen to and experience the multi-sensory story called ‘Where is Bramble?’ – the story of Bramble the dog and his visit to the vet.
Storytelling is one of our oldest art forms, is both entertaining and fun, and can pass on a culture’s history. People of different ages, backgrounds and cultures and with more complex needs can communicate through sensory storytelling.
Jason has a unique and instinctive way of connecting with people. The sharing of a story is a great way to build understanding and respect and have fun. The pleasure and joy that Jason brings to people who have more profound and complex needs was so evident to see in the recipient’s body language, gesture, vocalisation and smiles that his stories evoke.
The ‘sensory props’ of the stories can involve all the senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch which supports the verbal reading of the story.
The sensory story of Bramble started with a music box which each person was allowed to listen to and explore in turn. The room stilled and Jason had everyone’s attention. There was a sense of anticipation. Jason used the sound of a dog barking and a squeaky dog toy to encourage Bramble to come out from where he was hiding, dog biscuits in a box which made a great sound to encourage Bramble to get into his dog basket to go to the vet and a ticking timer to signify time to go the vets. Bramble the dog was a furry black and white collie hand puppet that everyone loved.
Jason has told over 900 sensory stories – his passion for sharing the story and communicating in a sensitive and meaningful way cannot be underestimated.
Jason has written two wonderful multi-sensory stories. One called ‘A Day at the Beach’ written for a young man who had never been to the beach. This sensory story brought the beach to the young man and inspired the support service to support the young man on a day trip to the beach at North Berwick. The second story Jason developed over the summer holidays. It is called a ‘Holiday to Disneyland’ for someone who dreamt of going to Disneyland. Every aspect was covered from the plane journey, to the Disney Resort Hotel, to going on Thunder Mountain, to travelling in a yellow taxi, to eating McDonald’s, meeting Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and packing the cases to come home. You can imagine the fun sensory props, including Mickey Mouse’s ears!
When asked how he begins to compile a sensory story, Jason said: “by spending time with the person and getting to know what they like…what’s their dream.” Then he can begin writing and drawing the book. The skill, time and effort required cannot be underestimated – finding the perfect sensory props to make the story meaningful is a vital part of the process.
As Jason says “I love storytelling – it makes me feel super-duper and I have lots of friends who all love storytelling too. We need to meet new people to tell the stories to. We can learn new stories and we can learn how to help other people and we can write stories to help other people and we can write stories for people like my friend who had never been to the beach. Now we have written the sensory story and now he has been to the beach and loved it!”
An opportunity to get involved with Tayberry Tales
Tayberry were recently successful in gaining a small pot of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver a series of creative writing workshops to adults with a learning disability with the goal of discovering local myths and legends from around Scotland and re writing them into a multi-sensory story. These new resources would then be developed into professionally presented stories with relevant props by a creative artist and then shared via Tayberry Tales storytellers.
Tayberry have two key target groups to present this opportunity to:
- Rural communities. Tayberry are keen to engage with groups outwith the main central belt – those who may not always have the opportunity to access the full range of activities because of their location
- Established groups with an interest in creative arts/ performance skills and literature/writing. Due to the limited time scale of this project, Tayberry have identified that working with established groups is far more achievable than trying to reach out to a wide range of individuals.
The creative writing project will be delivered by a playwright who specialises in working in an inclusive accessible format, and has great experience of working with adults with a learning disability including some groups in Dundee. The project would be delivered over a series of three workshops, each lasting approximately two hours, and could include taking the group out to visit local areas of interest – museums are a particular favourite. There would then be a follow up contact where the new stories, complete with their sensory objects, would be shared.
Tayberry are looking for creative people with an interest in storytelling, writing, music, drama, theatre, history, and more. No previous experience is required, and it is not essential that participants have literacy skills. This will be an accessible activity which will be made open to everyone. There is no charge for participation.
Tayberry recognises that this might be a good learning opportunity for key staff members to be involved with, so that there is a legacy of on-going work of this kind. There will be evaluation activities which will hopefully make use of film and photography to capture the outputs of this project, helping to inspire others or lead to a larger project in the future.
Jason is a volunteer with Tayberry Tales and if you would like to know more about Sensory Storytelling and taking part in the creative writing project please contact:
Tel: 01382 307559