On Tuesday 7th May, Living Life to the Fullest researcher Kirsty Liddiard visited Greenacre School, Barnsley, to begin planning the Living Life to the Fullest Co-Production Toolkit. Greenacre is a local school educating children and young people aged 3 – 19 with severe and complex needs.
Living Life to the Fullest, and its Co-Researcher Collective of disabled young people, are collaborating with Greenacre School – specifically Harry Gordon, SEN Teacher, and six Greenacre students – to co-design and create a “research toolkit”.
The Co-Production Toolkit aims to record and disseminate with others our ways of working in co-production with disabled young people in the research process. In the last decade, ‘public bodies — from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to national charitable organisations — have begun to produce their own guidance as to how to research with children and young people’ (Liddiard et al. 2018: 2). But we have been left wondering: where are the voices and expertise of disabled children and young people?
Our ‘preliminary read of such guidance reveals disability as present primarily only through concerns about safeguarding, accessibility and gatekeeping, and as that which demands extra time, resources, and planning on the part of the academic researcher (see Bailey and others, 2014). Seldom is there any explicit focus towards disability as a worthwhile life experience and valuable lived perspective from which to contribute — a positionality readily adopted in Living Life to the Fullest’ (Liddiard et al. 2018: 3).
Kirsty spent the day at Greenacre, meeting staff and students, and sitting in on some classes. In the afternoon, Harry and Kirsty met with the student collaborators and through exploring the invention of the fingerprint, (and finger printing each other!), we had conversations about the meanings of exploration and investigation. All of our student collaborators were excited and ready to jump aboard the project!
Through the Toolkit, we want to diversify our methods and practices of co-production to a broader demographic of young people: including young people with the labels of learning disability and autism, who are routinely omitted from research process. We want to take an online and offline approach – with downloadable resources such as short films, podcasts, animations and templates co-created by our co-researchers and student-collaborators. We also want to explore the possibilities of research as a learning practice for SEND pedagogy and politics. Ultimately, we want the Toolkit to be used by youth workers, teachers, social work practitioners, academics, researchers, charities… the list is endless!
As ever, we will keep you up-to-date as we go!
To learn more about Living Life to the Fullest, or if you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Liddiard, K., Runswick-Cole, K, Goodley, D., Whitney, S., Vogelmann, E. and Watts, L. (2018) ‘“I was excited by the idea of a project that focuses on those unasked questions”: Co-Producing Disability Research with Disabled Young People‘, Children and Society, 33: 2, 154-167