Reworking, Reconnecting, Relief.3 min read

// Kate Ireland

// Kate Ireland


When travelling on the train to deliver my first session at Blackrod Church School, I found myself scribbling in my notebook. Before I met the year 6’s I would be working with for the next nine weeks, I wanted to remind myself of my intentions for the project. As is common when working with partner organisations and young people, the sessions had been replanned and restructured, and I had found myself feeling distanced from my original aims and expectations. We were originally going to be working with teenagers and young adults, and now we are working with eight year olds. I knew there had to be a huge difference in my approach to working with young children, and I felt the weight of this responsibility. How was I going to alter my approach to accommodate them? How do I toe that fine line of being accessible for children yet not patronising their intelligence? How would I connect with a generation who I have little to no understanding of. I have no nieces or nephews at that age, and most of the freelance work I have done in the past three years has been with late teens and adults. 

Below is a snippet of what I wrote: 

“I want to explore young people’s complex and developing needs with curiosity and sensitivity. I want to know how we can allow our children to grow up more connected to themselves and each other? How can I identify generational thought processes that hinder children’s abilities to feel their emotions authentically? I want this project to be a call for a softer, slower approach to moving through the world. I want this project to mark a moment in time while they still have the ability to play, be curious and present to the world around them. I want to understand when children learn to inherit the opinions of others and mask their true selves. I want to have fun and allow them to experience joy.”

By writing in my notebook, I wanted to reaffirm within myself a sense of connection and purpose after a month or so of working between bar jobs. I found that in my writing I was making clear to myself not only what I wanted to uncover through working with this specific age group, but also reestablishing my all encompassing goals as an artist. I knew these were ambitious intentions and I would have to readjust my plans depending on the individuals I would meet. But it would so useful and clarifying to meet myself again through writing. To know that a relationship with my inner child and how that reflects in my community work is at the core of so much of what I do and create. 

After arriving at the school, I walked into the class to meet thirty unique, funny, interesting kids with a teacher who is so open and encouraging of their conversation and creativity. Oh, also they have a class dog, Miss Middleton’s golden retriever Izzy, who seems to have this magnetic pull of care and shared responsibility as she makes her way around the class and each child treats her with so much tenderness and love. I knew then,  in that moment, that everything was going to be okay..


Kate Ireland she/her