By Nicholas Cross, St. John’s School and College

Could You Help Bring the Jumblies to Life?

As a fundraiser I’ve helped bring some wonderful and hugely beneficial projects to life; from state of the art immersive theatres to seemingly impossible to run social enterprises. It’s a tough old job but means once in a while you come across a project so interesting, so undeniably inspiring that you feel a real sense of pride when you start bringing money in for it.

Right now that project is the brainchild of SEN provider St. John’s School & College and digital performance company Spectral Spaces, and it’s called The Jumblies Project.

Spectral Spaces presents The Jumblies from Jeb Hardwick on Vimeo.

The Jumblies Project Starts with a Poem

The Jumblies is a 6 stanza poem written by English artist, poet, illustrator and author, Edward Lear in 1871. Lear is best known for the use of literary nonsense in his writing, which soon becomes clear when but a few lines into the poem the fictional, and presumably very tiny, people called the Jumblies take to sea in a sieve on an adventure!

I won’t reveal too many spoilers but I can assure you it is imaginative, moving, entertaining and well worth reading.

This bizarre and amusing Georgian classic will be adapted by learning disabled pupils of St. John’s with the support of Spectral Spaces and performed at the Brighton Fringe Festival and Brighton Digital Festival in 2017. However unlike your typical, perhaps on occasion dull, school or college performances The Jumblies Project goes a few steps further. The performances will be enhanced and adapted to one of ‘sensory room-esque’ quality with an interactive app for the audience, OptiMusic light beams, movement triggered soundtrack, interactive walls, interactive floor, scent machine and lots much more!

It will take a good 18 weeks of hard work and preparation but most importantly be designed, created, produced, written and performed by 18-25-year-olds with complex learning disabilities, special needs and communication difficulties.

The Jumblies Project is an opportunity for our young people to show everyone out there that no matter your difficulties we are all creative, passionate, talented people and are more than capable of doing something to make our mark on the world. This is not just about putting on a performance unlike any other but about inspiring other young people and showing communities that no one is solely defined by a diagnoses and heck… why not go to sea in sieve (at least metaphorically.)

The project not only spreads a message of inclusivity in the arts, which is one of the hardest industries for any person to get a break in, but has core benefits for the young people involved. It promotes confidence, progresses their education, reduces challenging behavior, lets them experience something new and perhaps most importantly, shows them that their efforts are to be celebrated and applauded, literally.

We Need Your Help to Fund the Jumblies

Sadly nothing in life is free and this dream, from start to finish, costs £5,400 (~$6,800) to become a reality.

So, like any good fundraiser who’s been inspired by an amazing idea to help amazing people, I wondered if you would be as amazed and moved too.

In a risky move, that I’m hoping will make and not break this project, I have turned to conquer the tricky beast that is crowd funding. This, in a nutshell, gives anyone who is interested the chance to contribute financially and help bring The Jumblies to life. It seemed only fitting that a project aiming to spread a message of inclusion and equality should give people the chance to be a part of it.

Using Neighbourly, a crowd funding site targeted at businesses and individuals, we have summarized the project, explaining what we are hoping achieve and that the money, although significant, will be worth every penny.

There is also a rather enjoyable video (see above) that inspired the project and features St. John’s learners, St. John’s ICT Coordinator Dan Axson and Louis, Mark & Matt of Spectral Spaces giving a taster of what the performance would be like.

We are hoping people will make donations of whatever they can spare or at least share the page on their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts so even if you cannot donate you increase the chance of it being seen by someone who can.

We have already sourced £1,000 (~$1300) from an extremely generous charitable trust but there is a long way to go and not much time in which to do it.

So please click the link, be inspired, be part of something and help the 100+ pupils of a small learning disability college make an enormous difference to their own lives and hopefully the lives of so many others.

The Jumblies Project on Neighbourly: https://www.neighbourly.com/project/57ff9770c7ac8806c4fdbbc5/feed

Nicholas CrossNicholas Cross is a seasoned grant, community and corporate fundraiser for learning disability causes and is the Development Officer for St. John’s School and College. He’s been with the Brighton and Seaford-based SEN school, college and registered charity for over a year and sources the funds to pay for learning disability projects, equipment, and teaching resources.

He’s a writer for and co-founder of Brighton-based lifestyle blog Bright on a Budget and is an avid fan of Texas Hold ‘Em poker and world cinema. Follow Nick @nickthecross and follow St. John’s School and College @stjohns_sussex