Iva Gray, Advice and Support Officer | 17 March 2021
Achieving your goals can be a very exciting time. It is a time to pause. A time to reflect on all the challenges you faced. A time to think about what you have learned, your achievements and where they have taken you. To shout out, “I have done it!” And it is a time for learners to experience the warm congratulations from us at PET, their friends, fellow learners, and families. What a wonderful feeling!
We wanted to capture such moments of success and achievement and share them with the world. It is incredible the progress many have made. Well, we thought, let’s write to our learners and see what they would like to tell us about their learning journeys. Working with staff at HMP Parc, we asked distance learners there to kindly contribute stories of their studies.
We started to scratch our heads thinking, “How can we communicate these wonderful stories with others?” Erika Flowers’ name came up in conversation. Erika is a visual artist who happens to have studied with PET in the past. As a brilliant artist with lived experience of distance learning in prison, Erika has collaborated with PET previously and is a valued contributor to our strategy development.
When I met Erika, she was so enthusiastic about being part of the project: she suggested making an animation and offered her wonderful artistic skills to move the idea forward.
We wanted to reflect as many experiences as possible from the correspondence we received from learners. It was really wonderful to see how Erika started to draft a storyboard, picking up on the key messages. She drew sketches of the main characters and developed three independent learning journeys. She turned basic sketches into moving images. She really transformed learners’ written stories into pictorial ones.
As Erika was developing these pictures, we started to have a conversation about what kind of music we would like to hear when watching this animation. I knew Paul Keirle, a music prison teacher, from my visits to HMP Cardiff. A keen PET supporter and a gifted musician, Paul has extensive experience of playing and creating music with men in the prison.
When Paul came on board, Erika and I bombarded him with lots of suggestions as to what the music could be and he was incredibly patient. It was amazing how he was able to accompany the animation with music that perfectly reflected the emotions of our characters – how they dealt with challenges to achieve their goals and be successful.
Anyway, how about if I stopped here and let you watch and listen to the celebration project animation? Enjoy!
© Prisoners' Education Trust 2023