Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston has been unveiled as disabled children’s education charity Seashell Trust’s new ambassador.
And the actress and campaigner, who plays Izzy Armstrong on the famous cobbles, has been using the power of drama to help the increase the possibility of employment for the profoundly disabled students at the Seashell Trust-run Royal College Manchester.
Cherylee, who uses a wheelchair due to a rare connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, brought her TripleC artists’ collective to the Trust’s centre of excellence in Cheadle Hulme.
She said: “I’m really excited about being a Seashell Trust ambassador, I think Seashell is a brilliant rich environment.
“The drama workshops we’ve starting doing with the young people at Seashell make a massive difference to their self confidence and advocacy. The staff were incredibly excited at the level of progress the students made in such short time in terms of communication and engagement skills.
“Drama is a fantastic tool in enabling young people with disabilities to engage in the learning process in a different way; it allows young people to explore situations in a safe environment whilst learning important life skills in a fun way.”
TripleC is a Greater Manchester group of disabled and non-disabled creative which is trying to change access to the arts for disabled people of all ages. They use theatre workshops, film and improvisation to encourage self-discovery and build confidence.
The Seashell sessions have been funded by PZ Cussons.
The project was a huge success, as all the students made massive progress in their personal goals, many were achieved in the first hour of the first session.
Emilie Brothers, teacher of creative arts at Royal College Manchester, said: “Eight students who could take up paid employment upon graduation are taking part in TripleC’s World of Work-themed workshops.
“They involve drama strategies, such as characterization, role-plays and improvisations based on topics such as change, job preparation, encountering new situations, interviews, working day routine, meeting new people.
“The cornerstone of Arts at RCM is fun! Working with TripleC gave the students and staff the chance to play and engage creatively in Drama – and students’ progress and enjoyment were evident as a result!
“Hopefully, this type of program can be continued and further delivered across Royal College Manchester.”
Seashell Trust’s Chief Executive and Principal, Mark Geraghty said: “We are delighted to welcome Cherylee in new role as Seashell Trust ambassador. As a high-profile campaigner for the rights of people with a disability and someone who believes passionately in the value of the creative arts for young people with special needs, she is well placed to advocate on behalf of the charity.”