Oliver Jeffers provides inspiration for local children

A group of school children from Beechlawn school which caters for pupils with additional educational needs (AEN) have received an inspirational illustration from globally renowned author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers.

Originally from Northern Ireland and now living in LA, Oliver Jeffers created the illustration when he was touched to receive a story written by the Beechlawn pupils with a little help from the MAC.

The pupils worked with the MAC artist in residence Claire Dwyer Hogg as part of their Arts Award training and development programme which enables young people to gain a nationally recognised qualification through the MAC.

The children collectively wrote a story called ‘Different Planets’ with help from the MAC and their teacher Caroline Harris, Head of Music at Beechlawn sent the story to Northern Ireland Oliver Jeffers in his New York studio with a special request from the pupils. Caroline takes up the story.

“Our motto in Beechlawn is ‘dream big’ so when the children said they wanted to ask Oliver for an illustration I thought I might as well try our luck. The MAC helped me contact Oliver and the kids were absolutely thrilled to receive not only a reply but a beautiful illustration to go with our story.

“The MAC suggested Beechlawn pupils could enter the Arts Award in order to get a qualification, something we didn't think possible before now. The lift this has given our children is immeasurable. Beechlawn Special School cannot thank the MAC enough for their vital input into our pupil’s lives.”

Clare Lawlor is the Learning & Participation officer at the MAC. Clare said,

“Beechlawn was the first school to complete the Arts Award through the MAC. Arts Award is an accredited programme run by the MAC offering a range of qualifications open to those aged up to 25 yrs to develop creativity, leadership and communication skills through arts, culture and media.

The Beechlawn pupils have responded tremendously to their exposure to the arts and have grown in confidence and life skills throughout the course. The arts is a very effective way of communicating with children with special needs and helping them to express themselves fully. I am so pleased for them that Oliver Jeffers took the time to write directly to the school and to send them this illustration.”