Student Blog 2 Dave Walker

Digital Storytelling/Archiving as Pedagogic Resource

Personal Learning Blog

Personal Background: I’m a mature student (60yrs old) and have a long history of activism in a variety of causes from Environmental, through Anti-whaling, Animal Cruelty, Banning Foxhunting, Food safety and pesticide usage, Anti-racism protests, Migrant Rights & Equality, CND and Stop the Arms Trade to campaigns against the War on Drugs, Dying with Dignity and issues to do with quality of life. I am a passionate campaigner for EQUAL RIGHTS FOR EVERYONE. I am a parent & Grandparent. Indeed my eldest grandson has severe ADHD (although luckily for him he lives in the UK and so has a very comprehensive range of support services provided for him) & I have supported his Mum & Dad in their efforts to both have his condition properly assessed & research into just what services were available, were most suitable & how to access them in a timely fashion, so I have some experience of “Disability Issues”, albeit not with those coming from an institutional care setting.

Experience of Digital Storytelling: I have heard the term used but have never before had any experience of it either as a learning technology or as an advocacy aid to present personal views, experiences & reflections to a wider audience. In common with most social activists and carers(both professional & voluntary sector) I was aware of the ending of the warehousing of the disabled in the Institutional Care System and the drive towards aa more ‘patient centred’ “care in the community” approach. However, again like most I suspect, I had no experience with those affected nor had I any idea of the issues involved in the transition from one system to the other.

To be able to see & hear two different people with different disabilities communicate using their own voices, relating their own experiences including detailing not only within the Institutional setting, the obstacles placed in their path but also their hopes fears & experiences actually in the ‘outside world’ was invaluable.

Conclusions: I feel privileged to have been able to watch & listen first to Valerie Browne talking about her life in care & describing the daily drawbacks & limitations. Her evident frustration with both her fellows & the setting came across very strongly through the digital medium. Then to see her in her own listen to her talk about the realities of her daily life was both evocative and instructive.

In Matthew Whitney’s case the ability to see the man, to be able to pick up on nuances and posture deepened & personalised his contribution/life narrative.

The use of the digital formats gave me a real sense of just who these people are. Indeed the use of the formats allowed these case studies to become people to me in very real ways. I feel I have a sense of their personalities. In fact I now know them to actually be PEOPLE with hope & fears, flaws & talents, rights & requirements just like every other citizen, which makes the closing down of the Institutional Care system & the move to Community based services seem even more apposite. I had not fully appreciated just how incarcerated those in the old setting actually were, Nor did I realise just how capable, adaptable & human they are.

In the final analysis being part of this project has been a deeply rewarding experience enabling some real personal growth & a renewal of the determination to continue fighting to make this place better for all of us.