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Playschemes Youth clubs Special needs Workshops for adults

Workshops and residencies within the community

Since it began in 1976, the Windows Project has run workshops aimed at promoting writing for all ages and abilities within the community. The Project makes particular efforts to provide for children, since these will be the writers of the future, and for those with disabilities, whose abilities are often inadequately supported.

The Project runs a considerable number of individual workshops each year for specific user groups, including youth clubs, day care centres, writers groups and those in care or custody, but its general strategy has been to create, where possible, long-term regular "residencies", where a writer - preferably based as locally as possible - visits a group on a more or less weekly basis. This enables the development of greater trust and awareness within the group than could be fostered by occasional sessions by visiting tutors.

The nature and length of these workshops is arranged initially with the centre concerned but usually then develops by discussion with the actual users. They can range from the simple promotion of writing, through game-based approaches to poetry, script and story-writing or autobiography to criticism and advice for more experienced writers.

These workshops, variously funded by local authorities, Windows' own fundraising and the centres themselves, demonstrate the current range of the Project's work, encompassing playwriting and storytelling with under-10s; Saturday clubs in libraries; an alternative to snooker for teenagers in youth clubs; specialist advice sessions for the public and writers' groups, and year-round opportunities for both young and adult writers with disabilities or learning difficulties to develop their potential.

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The first workshops ever formally run by the Windows Project were arranged for the Merseyside Play Action Council in the summer of 1976, and playscheme workshops continue to play an important role in providing opportunities for children to write within a recreational environment.

The relaxed and flexible atmosphere of playschemes can provide an excellent environment for writing while at the same time building good working relationships with the children. In order to achieve this against the background hustle and bustle the Project usually arranges for the workshops to be run by two or three poets, which provides both for the usual heavy demand and also for ideal on-site training of writers; and for the workshop to take place either seperate from the main play-area or in some quieter controllable space to allow the children to work with the minimum of disturbance.

Windows playscheme workshops begin with a game - a board game or quiz, sometimes a small fairground-style sideshow - which, while fun to play, gives the children a starting point for the poem they'll go on to write with as much help as they need from the poets, ideally on a one-to-one basis to address their individual needs. Most of the games are designed to be played by two to four players, and when these have finished their poems and have moved on to "publishing" them as display work the next group begin the game.

The number of children in the room obviously varies according to the game and the speed at which each child works, but the system provides an atmosphere in which children can both relax and concentrate, knowing they have an adult's attention and assistance, which means that they don't waste time or have their time wasted, and so the numbers involved during a full day can be the equivalent of a school class; however, on the playscheme, each child has recieved far more individual attention than would have been possible if the whole class had been in the room.

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Youth clubs

Although the greater part of the Project's work in play is with children from 6 to 12 years old, it also runs sessions specifically for young people.

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Special needs

The Project works with a wide range of organisations providing facilities for children and adults - from adventure playgrounds to Survivors poetry groups.

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Workshops for adults

Although the game-based approach was designed for children, adults enjoy playing as well!
So the Project uses games with groups of adult writers whether in libraries, community or day-centres.
But because adults may have particular needs in getting advice on their work, whether on the writing itself or on publishing, the Project runs advice desks in libraries and sessions for writers' groups, and also tries to answer any queries phoned, e-mailed or posted to it.

Click here to read poems from summer workshops
Click here to read poems from a wide range of workshops

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