Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Written account of the first launch of Life Outside the Box

Life Outside the Box – book and DVD now launched
By Margaret Ann Foley

A wonderful book and DVD created by members of the Irish Wheelchair Association was launched by Sean Murphy, Batchelor in Trouble fame, at Dungarvan library last Thursday 25th February.  Upon my arrival at the library I was surprised to see the puppets on view from the library window and I must say they all looked splendid in their new home for the next few weeks.  In the warmth and cosy environment of the library there was a great turnout from the public all sitting down waiting to hear about the puppets.

Proceedings commenced with Mark Foley, a service user of the Irish Wheelchair Association, who gave a full explanation of how the puppets were created from humble beginnings to what people could see of the finished product on display.  If you never knew how a puppet was made then listening to Mark talking as he gave away a few well kept secrets of how a puppet is made would make anyone want to find a piece of wood and a few screws to try one for themselves.   It was the most interesting talk and I must say he had his audience so tuned in you wouldn’t hear a pin drop, literally. 

Mark made sure to thank everyone who was involved with this project, including our sponsors, and the library staff for allowing us to exhibit our creations.  He also made reference to the fact that we got very good advertisement of our book/dvd launch in the newspapers and this was evident by the number of people who were interested by what they read that they came along to this event.  With their support I can gladly say that all the service users of the Irish Wheelchair Association felt like stars on the night and some members were seen signing the book.  Even one little girl who attended had a great chat with Amy Fitzgerald, and wanted to know if the puppets had names.

After Mark’s speech he then introduced us to Sean Murphy, of Batchelor in Trouble fame who kindly came to launch the exhibition.  Sean talked about the book “Life Outside the Box” and what that really meant for people with disabilities and gave the explanation of a few scenarios in his own life.  When he was making his first video he was asked if he had a degree to be able to make and sell the video and he said he hadn’t but that if you believe in something and can do something then what degree does anyone need, sure didn’t he have a camera and off he went and made his next video.    Sean is now after making his twentieth DVD and is still going from strength to strength.  Sean said that once you were labelled with a disability you were put in a box and meant to stay there but if you believe you can do something then one should go after it that life is too short.  “There is no such thing as you can’t.  Do what you like!” said Sean.  “The box is a wicket place to live in.  Only you go into the box, you shouldn’t stay in it.  A box is for keeping things in.  The box doesn’t exist.  It is only in your head.  There is no limit to the human spirit” Sean said and I must say I wholeheartedly agree with Sean.  This was why our book “Life Outside the Box” was created to show that yes even though we have a disability we can definitely live outside the box.  The puppets coming out of the box that was on display signified us coming out of the box that society wants us labelled and put in a box, “keeping you in your place.  It comes from the hierarchy – government knows best….”, said Sean.  But yes we have showed that we can succeed outside the box and far beyond. 

Sean was also delighted to meet Pat Coffey a service user of the Irish Wheelchair Association whom himself and Pat go back a long way as Pat in his time was a musician and they had played together in their hay day.

Sean had his audience in peals of laughter with his banter and he ended by declaring the exhibition open to the public.  We then had a look at the DVD which was playing on the TV and was enjoyed by all.  Lastly, we ended the evening with some lovely snacks and drinks prepared for by our staff and service users of the Irish Wheelchair Association whom I would like to very much thank for supporting us with this project.

The book/DVD is now on sale in Eason’s Dungarvan, the Library, IWA Office and on-line. See below for details.

Also, this project would not have taken flight but for the experience of our resident artist Corina Duyn who showed us how to make the puppets including the beautiful outfits worn by the puppets.  Her knowledge and know-how of creating a book and DVD was essential in fulfilling our dreams and without her this project wouldn’t have happened.  We will miss our Monday class and the fun we had in creating these puppets.  Corina, you will have to think of something else to fill our minds.  This project isn’t over yet as the puppets are going on a journey on the 16th March they are packing their suitcases (yes, suitcases made for them – literally) and travelling to the library in Waterford City where this project will be launched from 6.00-8.00p.m. and will be on display for about two weeks there.  So do travel with us on this journey and meet us there on the 16th March in Waterford City Library.

Once again, may I thank everyone who helped in any way with this project no matter how small or how big, your contribution was greatly appreciated and to the public for supporting this project. It has meant so much to us the service users of the Irish Wheelchair Association.  Proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards further projects for the service users.  Thank you.

The Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) is a national organisation dedicated to the achievement of full social, economic and educational integration of people with disabilities as equal, independent and participative members of the community.

Contact IWA Waterford City and County Resource & Outreach service on 058 24645 / 087 255 6835 to enquire about services available in the South East area.   Visit our website www.iwa.ie for more information on our services and resource & outreach centres across the country.

This project has been awarded the Create-Artist in the Community Scheme, funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.

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