Tuesday 18th June was the official launch of the initiative to make Canterbury a Makaton Friendly city...
St Nicholas School had a very busy and exciting day. The school has five Makaton Tutors who have worked hard, alongside John-Paul Riordan (of Canterbury Christchurch University [CCCU]), to help organise a full day of Makaton Friendly activities.
Our preparations for the day continued on from our initial planning meeting in March – we had created social media pages and groups sharing the official launch date, had articles placed into the local press and had the project mentioned in local things to do and chamber of commerce magazines.
We created four free Taster dates before the end of the summer term and made these open to the public, prospective Makaton Friendly organisations and those that had already signed up. John-Paul also created an online sign-up sheet and advertised the largest Taster, to be conducted on the launch day, through to students at CCCU.
Our school Tutors liaised with Hannah and Sarah at The Makaton Charity, who offered us advice and linked us in with the local news service from BBC South East. We liaised with Yasmin and Helen from the BBC who planned a day of publicity and recording to help publicise our launch, with filming and a report that was transmitted on our launch date. Helen (the reporter) and her cameraman spent a morning of filming in school, and an afternoon of filming in the city centre.
The onsite filming began with an interview with a parent (governor) whose son uses and interprets Makaton symbols and signs in his daily life. They then filmed our wall displays and symbol signage / labelling around the building. They then moved into a primary classroom and filmed a Key Stage 2 class signing the Hello song.
The reporter then interviewed me, in my role as project co-ordinator, which at the request of the BBC was signed and spoken.
The time in school then concluded with the filming of a section of a staged Makaton Taster session (with a group of special school staff).
The crew then moved into town to film two Makaton Friendly organisations a community café who have signed up and the local scout group. They interviewed the café manager and then filmed their server (with Down Syndrome) taking an order from the Scout leader, as a customer.
The next event was our after-school Makaton Taster session, which was attended by 45 people – including the entire teaching staff of a local primary school (who made our session their staff meeting), nursery school staff, a swimming teacher, university students, members of the scout group etc.
The evening then progressed with a live radio interview on the initiative over the telephone on Radio Kent Drive Time (and repeated on the Breakfast Show the following morning).
To close the event was an official presentation of St Nicholas School's Makaton Friendly certificate by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury and Hannah Anderson from The Makaton Charity.
A good start to the initiative, now the real work starts…