Birmingham Hippodrome Welcomes Creative Responses to Autism Symposium Today

An educational symposium looking into issues around integration into adult life for young people with learning disabilities is taking place at Birmingham Hippodrome in February. Following a successful pilot symposium in 2011 about how creative practice can be used to support the development of young people on the autistic spectrum, Moving On Up is promoted as part of Birmingham Hippodrome's education programme in conjunction with Open Theatre Company.

Four out of five young people with mild or moderate learning disabilities are unemployed. And the Moving On Up symposium today, 7 February asks the key question: 'What more can the cultural sector do to support the transition and integration into adult life of young people with learning difficulties in Birmingham and beyond?'

Liz Leck, Education and Audience Development Manager at Birmingham Hippodrome said "We know that single-handed we cannot change society. But we are committed to offering a unique type of theatre practice that can give these young people more than a fighting chance to earn a living like the rest of us and make a valuable contribution in adult life."

Moving On Up's keynote speaker will be parent and activist Anna Kennedy OBE the mother of two boys who are both affected by autism. In 1999, having been turned away by no fewer than 26 special schools when searching for appropriate educational facilities, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Anna remortgaged her home to transform a derelict council building into what is now a centre of excellence for children and young adults with autism. She won the Woman of the Year award in 2009.

Other speakers include GUS GARSIDE National Arts Officer for Mencap; theatre specialist RICHARD HAYHOW of Open Theatre Company; and DUNCAN HONEYBOURNE a musician, educator & lecturer discussing his experience of life on the autism spectrum. Young people have also been invited to share their personal experiences.

Moving On Up is ideal for teachers, parents, support workers, employers, cultural organisations, students, academics and those with an interest in the well-being of young people with learning disabilities. Tickets from £65 (with student concessions) are available on 0844 338 5000. Full details can be found at and The symposium is supported by The Chatwin Trust and the Grimmitt Trust.

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