By Tony Coppard Blockhouse Bay Community Centre's Roving Reporter
Artwork created by Annie's students
My assignment this month was to visit Annie in the downstairs room at the Blockhouse Bay Community Centre. Annie runs several programmes, but this one I’d come to observe helps young people with difficulties which affect their dexterity and cognition.
The first four youngsters arrived with their caregivers. Their first exercise was to balance what looked like a giant ice cream, but in reality was a small road cone with a ball nestled into the top. Their task was to get to the other end of the room and back, dodging between chairs, and without dropping the ball.
Another group then arrived and were soon beaming with smiles and occasional shouts of excitement as Annie welcomed them. One young man stood out to me who seemed deep in thought, as if seeking an answer to a problem that was evading or puzzling him.
The next task was quite a challenge for Annie to organise amid the laughter that was erupting as each person had to pass a large ball overhead to the next person while standing in a long row.
Activities such as these involving using a needle and wool to embroider words or patters help with fine motor skills and brain function.
There’s usually an art project on the go which the young people work on each time they come. It might involve gluing items to a picture, or using a needle and wool to embroider words or patterns. These activities help with fine motor skills and brain function.
But what really gets everyone going is music.
A couple of shouts from Annie as she switched on the dance music, and soon everyone was captured by the rock n roll beat that seemed to blow away malfunctions, releasing the body to enjoy the electrical energy that stimulates the skeletal framework. Annie joined in amid shouts of laughter, smiles, waving arms, showing them how to enjoy the music with each other! Even the quiet lad pondering the missing answer took off his jacket and joined in with a changed facial expression and a couple of shouts to acknowledge the power of music that can improve the quality of life. I came away uplifted by the energy and joy of this group and Annie’s amazing talent for improving people’s lives.