Our son Chadd has attended Musical Keys for a few years now and thoroughly enjoys every aspect of his time there.He will always look forward to school holidays so that he can attend sessions as he has a passion for music and obsessions for particular music!He has a great imagination and is so happy and content when he can be in a environment where he can express himself whether it be singing,playing instruments or dressing up around others who share his interests.
It can be hard for a young person with learning difficulties to feel comfortable in a group and social situations but each and every session has very well organised programmes and the staff and volunteers create a fun and safe place for activities.Along side this Chadd has guitar lessons at home with Dan which is through the "In my own time"programme which he enjoys immensely as he can express his inner rock star and have a gam session.
Not only is Musical Keys fantastic at supporting the children and young adults they run the activities for, but the support they give to parents and carers is amazing.If you call the office a cheery voice on the end of the phone will always lend a ear and try help in any which way to help you or your young person with advice or point you in the right direction.Norfolk is truly blessed to have this wonderful Charity.
Lucy Wilson, mother of Chadd.
Lauren has Downs Syndrome and is 15 years old. She has attended many Musical Keys sessions over the years. She started with music sessions when she was very small and enjoyed them a lot. In recent years, she started to attend the DXA sessions which were run at the Hall School in Norwich. Lauren was quite sensitive to loud or sudden noises so she would attend wearing ear plugs and she was initially quite nervous about going. This didn’t last long. She soon decided the sessions were great fun and no threat to her whatsoever and she ditched the ear plugs! She loved everyone there and was always keen to know who would be playing with her this time!
With changes to direct payments, Lauren was no longer able to go to the DXA sessions which was a bit of a concern to us initially. However, some new sessions were set up called creative connections. We wondered if Lauren would enjoy these sessions as much but we were worrying needlessly. She thoroughly enjoys them. She loves the volunteers who help there. She enjoys being around the other children who attend. She likes the feeling of independence now she doesn’t have a one to one at the sessions. She makes music, makes films, plays ‘find the frog’ (a particular favourite alongside singing ‘fart in the bath’!!). We have been given a copy of the films afterwards and they are excellently done. The kids are having a fantastic time.
Musical keys is by far Lauren’s most favourite thing to do. She gets really excited before she goes and comes home full of news and giggles.
Lauren has tried attending ‘mainstream’ groups in the past and sadly she’s always found them really difficult. Groups like these are few and far between. I can’t express enough how great Musical Keys has been for Lauren. She’s come a long way with them. Long may they continue to provide such an excellent service.
Claire Elvin, mother of Lauren
"I’m 16 and all my life I have found it difficult to fit in.I was taken away from my birth parents when I was less than a year old. When I was three, I was taken away from my foster parents and came to live with my Mum. I had to say goodbye to everyone I had ever known.For a long time, nothing felt right. People didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand other people. There were some bad times.In my new family, I have a sister who has Down’s syndrome. She went to a mainstream school like me but she also had lots of friends who have Down’s syndrome too. They are special friends. They know what it’s like to be her. She knows who she is and she is proud of herself. I am proud of her too.But I never seemed to fit in anywhere. I have some learning difficulties but I don’t count as disabled.
I work hard and I’m good at some of the things I do, but I didn’t use to feel that I fitted in with ordinary people. There didn’t seem to be people like me. I had lots of people I knew, but I didn’t have close friends.But as I grew, my family grew too. I started to feel understood.Last year, lots of things changed for me. We moved into Norwich city and I started to go to Fast Forward at Open on a Saturday morning. It is run by NANSA, Musical Keys and OPEN. It is for people on the edge of disability. It was one of the first times I thought there was something for people like me. I didn’t have to struggle to fit in.I met my friend Danny at Fast Forward. I always seem quite confident on the outside, but I started to feel more confident on the inside. We did lots of interesting stuff. I can get to Fast Forward by myself and I started to feel I was leading my own life. I started to know who I was.
This summer, I left school. I didn’t get the grades I needed to do my course at college, so I was put on a different course. The past year made me confident enough to ring my Mum up on the first day and say, “This isn’t right for me. Please help me.” My Mum did some finding out. The next morning, I was at City College doing an audition and an interview and now I’m studying Performing Arts, which is one of those things I work hard at and am good at. And you know what? The other people on my course are quite a lot like me. They like the same things I do. I feel I’m in the right place. Fast Forward helped me to feel it was OK to be me. That there is a place for me in the world. Now I’m excited about the future and forward is the way I am going.
Shane, Fast Forward participant
My daughter has been going to Musical Keys since she was 8 months old. She is now nearly 3 years old & still loves going to this group. Ray & the volunteers who support him in running the group make Musical Keys a very lovely way to spend a morning. She was grown in confidence & is very competent in knowing what to do with various musical instruments. She is learning to take turns with other children & tolerate different noises within the group which is helping with her sensory issues. It is a fantastic group, & we will be very sad to leave it when she starts school
Parent, Monday group participant