Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Wednesday Club: Art, Bingo and Disco

May 19, 2010 · No Comments

In this blog I want to describe my experience at Wednesday Club, a weekly space provided by BUILD for over 60 adults with learning difficulties for social, learning and leisure activities. For two hours each Wednesday, I, along with other volunteers and clients with learning disabilities participated in bingo nights, arts and crafts, disco, and life-skills learning activities.

For my first visit to the Wednesday Club I arrived early in order to get acquainted with the staff who set up the space every Wednesday. Upon meeting the director of the Wednesday Club, who was both friendly and suave, I felt at ease. Being introduced to the rest of the staff, I quickly learned that many of them had learning disabilities but by being involved with the program for years they ‘climbed the ladder’ from being clients to earning staff positions. Seeing a new comer, some of them were hesitant and shy, maybe because I was holding a black folder with the research questions or I sat in the middle of the room observing their set up process. However, others quickly approached me, introduced themselves, and proudly shared what their responsibilities are and how long they’ve been involved with BUILD. They assured me that although it was calm at 6, by 7 PM the room will be filled with people and it gets quite hectic. As volunteers began arriving, I would introduce myself explaining why I was there and my goal for the research project and if I could interview them at one point in the evening. The first evening, the rooms were used for Disco, from which the songs of the 70’s and 80’s were blasting from the speakers, Art workshop, which walls were decorated in very impressive art of the clients, and a general room where volunteers and the clients could interact, drink a cup of tea or coffee, play a game or two. By 7 PM, the first floor and the three rooms of the Princes Street United Reformed Church filled with people, checking in, purchasing Bingo tickets, pouring themselves drinks and making decisions as to what room they would retreat to. The music lovers and dancers quickly retreated to the Disco room, singing to Jackson 5 songs, while the artists retreated to the painting room, showing me the drawings they previously completed and the current projects they were working on.

Although I was able to complete a few interviews with the volunteers that night, which was my reason for being there , I quickly became interested and infatuated with the atmosphere at the Wednesday Club. The excitement and the fulfillment that all of the individuals gained from being involved seemed unattainable anywhere else. The space provided an opportunity for both groups involved to break down social stigmas and relax, and enjoy themselves by furthering their social and artistic skills. From the interviews completed, it is clear that people keep coming back for years for multiple reasons. Whether it is to continue their involvement in the community, gain more experiences working with adults with learning disabilities, or just have fun, both volunteers and clients had several gifts to share and certain goals to fulfill. The Wednesday Club has been a perfect example of what local organizations offer to individuals with learning disabilities that the government and public organizations can not. The focus on relationships and activities that can promote several improvements in parties involved are successful which explains the passion from the staff and the volunteers. Wednesday Club which has been active for the past 43 years is a true success.

Categories: Jeyla
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