The Inspiring Futures programme offers a series of creative, vocational workshops aimed at raising the aspirations of young disabled people. Our mentors and artists use creativity as a way of engaging with young people, helping them to unlock their potential and build their confidence. The learners are empowered through a range of activities and encouraged to make positive steps toward their future. The programme has been designed to acknowledge the varying levels of learning in order to ensure that each session matches the needs of the participants. 

We invited the students to visit our gallery with a surprise twist – their own artwork was being displayed.

In July 2015, we worked with a number of students from the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee School over the course of six weeks. We commissioned two disabled artists, Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq and Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings, to develop the group’s artistic skills and give them an insight into the life of an artist.

Each week we explored a different theme and created a relevant set of learning outcomes to be achieved in close collaboration with school’s head of the arts Paul Morrow. The introductory session used peer discussions along with a Q&A to explore ways of communicating students’ artistic expression and overcoming challenges. As the course progressed, the learners were taught how to think about and express their future choices, how to be inspired and formulate their own ideas and to think about presenting their work. Towards the end of the course, the students were then taught to explore methods of creative expression through the use of film and artworks before learning how to demonstrate their artistic practice. 


One of the activities required the students to create work in response to the well-known Joan Miro painting, Woman in Front of the Sun, 1950. The final pieces were created with a variety of materials including card and tissue paper, resulting in a collection of stunning artworks that we were proud to display in our Shape gallery. 

Woman in Front of The Sun, Joan Miro, 1950. Students artwork on display in our gallery.
Image (above, left): Woman in Front of the Sun, Joan Miro, 1950.

We invited the students to visit our gallery with a surprise twist – their own artwork was being displayed. As part of their special private view experience, there were refreshments available and the opportunity to view our Illham exhibition, which was previously on show in Doha, Qatar, before being exhibited in our gallery. Omeima, one of the artists who led the workshop, had her work on display as part of the exhibition; the group found her talk on her experiences an artist and as a disabled person inspiring and encouraging. 

An exhibition? Wow, I feel like a real artist!

The experience was exciting and engaging for the group, one of the accompanying teachers stated that he noticed an increased boost in the participant’s confidence and self-esteem. One of the girls who took part in the course remarked, “An exhibition? Wow, I feel like a real artist!” when she saw her work on display. The mentoring artists noticed that the students’ confidence had increased when they became aware that their work could be presented in a gallery.

Student and teacher viewing artwork at the private view.

There are still several challenges when working with students who require different teaching and learning methods to accommodate their needs. Many of the barriers faced are as a result of the limited number of independent art studios and the additional time and training that these young people require, but are not always able to access.

The content and the structure of the vocational workshops supported their aspirations in a concrete and productive way. Students familiarised themselves with the range of materials, used their communication and sensory skills and discovered their creative potential to take forward in their lives. Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee School taught us that the talent of disabled young people deserves our attention. It was very positive to learn that this talent was shared and celebrated with their teachers, parents and their local community afterwards. Their exhibition was hosted in the closing event of the school year, and their framed artworks currently decorate the corridors and the art room of the school.

To read more about the programme and the services that we offer to assist young people with their career progression, visit our Inspiring Futures page. Read more about our past projects on our Shape Youth blog.