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Unfortunately, this is one of the first and nearly last entry for this project. It has been taking place in three different healthcare contexts: An acute children`s hospital setting with the Physiotharapy Dept, in the waiting area of a health centre during a child development clinic, and in the community, as part of a parent support programme. I will comment mainly on the community aspect of the programme, which took place in collaboration with the Community Mother`s Programme. "Community Mothers targets first-time mothers and their infants up to one year of age who live in disadvantaged areas. Existing mothers in these communities are trained to empower new parents about health care, nutrition and child development." (for info on the community mothers please see http://www.irishhealth.com/index.html?level=4&id=10063)

I visited 6 families 4 times in their homes, spending about 1 and 1/2 hours with each, linking in with the Family Development Nurse in the area. The musician, Jonathan Wilson joined me, visiting each family once. I should also add that I had a mentor, Tim Webb, from Oily Cart theatre company (www.oilycart.org.uk) working alongside us who visited from London 4 times during the process. The families all had very young children, often their first child, under the age of 2years.

The visits were very exploratory and play based, with a different theme each week, i.e.: Fabric, feathers, light, paper, song, movement, etc. The materials and props were presented to the young child to explore in their own time and I noted and recorded their level of interest, engagement, and response. Parents joined in the play and encouraged their child`s activity. At the end of each session, the parent worked on making a baby book, which will be completed at the end of the project. The fourth and final session with each family facilitated devising (making and animating to song) images inspired by some of the children`s songs we had been singing, i.e. making the sun, the stars, a farm, from the various materials we had been previously exploring.

Along side the visits I also worked in my studio, making props to bring to the families to test out and explore. This was in response and in dialogue with the creative engagement with the families.

A public forum was organised in conjunction with Tallaght Community Arts (www.tallaght-arts.ie) to discuss the role of the creative arts with very young children, on Oct 29th. Tim Webb from Oily Cart spoke about his work, and Jonathan, the musician and I also presented on the project. A podcast of this talk and discussion will be available on Tallaght Community Arts Website over the next few weeks, so will photo and a video from the project. Also please see an article from the Irishtimes on Infant Imaginings: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2008/1104/1225523340742.html

Some recorded feedback from the parents include (at the end of each session I asked the parents, with the young child if they were able, to give a written or drawn response to the session. These were recorded on fabric and will be bound into a book. Please see photo in gallery.): "Very relaxing. Forgot our worries. Time flew by." "Happy Child." "We are having a wonderful time." "Relaxing and refreshing." "Brightened up (my daughter`s) day."

I am currently working in my studio (shed really) preparing for a showing of a work-in-progress performance which will take place next week in Tallaght Community Arts, to which all the families are invited. Jonathan and I have devised (with the input from our mutual explorations with the families) interactive performances for the different age groups, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, and 1-2 years. The first two performances are a Theatre-for-one style in which we play only for the parent and the very young child (siblings included). The show for 1-2 years will be a group show. After each families` respective performance, we will finish and bind the baby book, for them to take home and continue the creative work and play with their very young children.

Interestingly, one of the parents, Maria Vesselko, a photographer from Estonia, is now documenting the project. Each family will receive copies of the best photographs as a memory and reminder of their creative time together with their very young child. Maria`s photographs can be seen here on Practice.ie. She also spoke about her experience as a mother and role as photographer on the project at the forum on Oct 29th.

So, It`s time to return to the studio and continue making the maquette props and puppets we need for next week.

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