There are some 770,000 disabled children in the UK who have virtually no role models in literature. In the Picture
is a pioneering campaign set up by national disability charity Scope to address this issue. Due to be displayed at the Foundling Museum
with support from Dame Jacqueline Wilson, this project has resulted in a vibrant exhibition of works by childrens book illustrators such as Quentin Blake and Jane Ray. Colourfully and imaginatively representing young characters with a variety of conditions, this exhibition promotes the need to give disabled children their rightful presence in mainstream story and picture books.
The exhibition features pictures in a variety of media by established and emerging artists representing children with reduced mobility, restricted communication or learning difficulties. The project as a whole proposes a world where simple adjustments to equipment, systems of communication and attitudes break down barriers and make both learning and leisure accessible to everyone. In addition to the illustrations there will also be displays of stories and artwork by children from schools in London for children with special needs, as well as an active series of free creative workshops to get young people with disabilities involved. These include drama for children with learning disabilities, dancing for wheelchair users and an art workshop for visually impaired children.
Britains bestselling childrens author Dame Jacqueline Wilson is the Foundling Museum s Thomas Coram Fellow and will open the exhibition after attending an afternoon session with the children contributing their work to the exhibition. When children peer at picture books they always look for a child they can identify with - a little girl with plaits, say, or a boy with a bike. It must be hard for a disabled child searching for someone who looks exactly like them. It's wonderful that this exhibition of beautiful vibrant artwork puts all children in the picture, going about their normal happy everyday lives. It's particularly heartening that the venue is the Foundling Museum , with its long history of caring for all children marginalized by society. Jacqueline is due to launch her latest book Hetty Feather in October, about a girl who grows up in the Foundling Hospital and goes in search of her mother.
Cerrie Burnell, the Cbeebies presenter on BBC One, is also actively supporting the exhibition saying, All children deserve to have their lives represented by the power and beauty of story. As a public figure born with no right forearm she has helped to raise the profile of childrens understanding of physical disability. Cerrie will host a special event for families on Saturday 29 August based on her childrens play Winged that follows the story of Violet, a fairy born with one wing. Set to a London backdrop in a quirky and magical world it is a family adventure that celebrates difference and champions diversity.