Valuing the place of young people with learning disabilities in the arts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Methodologies of embodied learning, radical pedagogies and applied drama offer a lens through which to investigate the empowerment of young people with learning disabilities in Northern Ireland, thus counteracting more traditional, disempowering methods. According to Helen Nicholson: The “participatory, dialogic and dialectic qualities as effective and democratic ways of learning” which advocates of applied drama expound, encourage interactivity and collaboration which is at the same time active and critical (2005: 38).
Transformative inquiries involving action, where people change their way of being and doing and relating in their world is based on practical knowing-how (Heron and Reason, 2006: 145). Thus having the right practices in place is essential in engaging young people marginalised by traditional modes of learning.
This paper charts the course of a group of young people with learning disabilities using theatre to explore ways in which they can express the emotions and dilemmas they face in transitioning from young people ‘participating’ in their world, to more actively engaging in arts leadership roles. A comparison is drawn with Swedish models of disability arts which tend towards a relative, or weaker social model of disability - more akin to the WHO’s ICF2 than the one we are used to in the UK - which I argue is more suited to inclusion of young people with learning disabilities. Questions of facilitation, co-creation and participation are examined in light of this comparison.

Heron, J. and Reason, P. (2006). The practice of cooperative inquiry: research ‘with’ rather than ‘on’ people. In Reason, P. and Bradbury, H. (eds) Handbook of action research: participative inquiry and practice. London: Sage pp144-54.
Nicholson, H. (2005). Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationValuing Disabled Children and Young People
Subtitle of host publicationResearch, Policy and Practice
EditorsBerni Kelly, Bronagh Byrne
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781138687080
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 3 Aug 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Valuing the place of young people with learning disabilities in the arts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this