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Silent Movie Gives Disabled People A Voice

Thursday 30th September 2010


Move over Charlie Chaplin and make way for the Bedford & District Cerebral Palsy Society (BDCPS), who recently showcased their silent movie ‘The Paper Plane Trouble at Ridgeway School’ to the Aiming High for Disabled Children Steering Group.


The production, filmed at Ridgeway School was created as part of their ‘Skool’s Out Summer Activity Scheme’ for young people with disabilities aged 8-19 years.


The silent movie is 30 minutes in duration and filmed in black and white, to mimic a typical silent movie, from its original era. The plot is; students at Ridgeway are reprimanded by their Head teacher for throwing paper planes around in class, so A4 posters are placed on walls around the school, to inform pupils of the new rule, ‘No Paper Planes’. In a twist of irony, the students pull down these posters and make… paper planes out of them! (much to the annoyance of their Head teacher).


In order to help bring the film to life, the BDCPS collaborated with freelance artist, Paul Nicholson.  Paul has supported the society for a number of years and had an understanding of the young people’s capabilities and needs, which enabled him to get the best out of the cast in terms of outlining their talent and sense of comedy!


As a local charity, BDCPS need to source funding to be able to offer such opportunities to their young people. So, the silent movie proposal was put to Bedford Borough Council’s ‘Aiming High’ committee, who in return, were keen to fund it.  Aiming High for Disabled Children is a national government programme which aims to give disabled children more opportunities to enjoy their leisure time. The programme also works to give support with childcare for families with disabled children, improve transition from child to adulthood and give children and families more say in decision making.


Rose McHugh, Activities Coordinator at BDCPS, said: “We have been developing art and drama related projects with our young people for the last few years now, and they prove to be so popular. The reason for this is that as well as being fun, they provide scope for creative freedom and expression.  A vital element for us at BDCPS is that those facilitating these projects allow the young people to lead and direct the projects, it is their ideas and they have control.  This project allows development of a range of skills - physical, emotional and intellectual, that can be used in all areas of their life.”


Cllr David Sawyer, portfolio holder for Children’s Services, at Bedford Borough Council, said: “This project is evidence that young people with disabilities can follow their dreams and aspirations. Those involved have produced material that we can all relate to and enjoy. Any avenue is possible for these young individuals, and the world of entertainment is no exception.”


BDCPS are keen to continue developing creative opportunities going forward. The charity is currently looking to source funding for further projects in the pipeline for Easter 2011, as a follow-up to their amazing production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, earlier this year.


If you would like more details on how you could offer your support? Or, perhaps you would like more information on any up-and-coming productions? Please contact Rose McHugh on 01234 351759.

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