Our Research History 

Within a couple months of opening our doors, it became clear that there was more to these materials than just the cost savings they provide. The penny really dropped during one of ReCreate’s first in-house creative reuse workshops when a group of Second Class children came to ReCreate. The joy on their faces when they walked in the door and saw the Warehouse of Wonders was a pleasure to behold. They got it straight away: we can make whatever we want with this treasure trove of colorful and unusual materials! But then something even more remarkable happened. A child with autism became overawed with the yelps of excitement from the other kids and began to withdraw into himself. His SNA spotted a large tub of orange plastic pellets then led him over and encouraged him to plunge his hand into the pellets for 10 minutes. The calming effect this induced allowed him to adjust to his surroundings enough to actively engage in the group workshop element with his peers that followed. His teacher later disclosed to us her amazement at his level of participation and interaction with all the other “ReCreators.” After processing this feedback, ReCreate staff knew that these materials had potential for a greater holistic effect on individuals with additional needs.

After this event, ReCreate applied to the Environmental Protection Agency for funding to run workshops in different inclusive settings. ReCreate was awarded this project funding, which was titled “Heads Up,” and have since provided over 280 hours of creative workshops for a variety of special needs groups and inclusive settings. The benefits that open-ended materials used creatively can have on individuals with special needs were highlighted again and again through this research.

Heads Up

Our first publication “Heads Up” was designed by ReCreate to explore the benefits of creativity through the reuse of materials and to examine if they encouraged greater flexibility and creativity in inclusive educational settings. Adopting an ‘artist in residence’ model, ReCreate worked with 18 educational and community-based groups involving children, young people and adults with diverse learning needs. Over a 16-week period, art-led workshops were facilitated by 11 visual artists using clean, high quality, open-ended materials that had been salvaged from businesses by ReCreate. “Heads Up” was evaluated by the Arts Education Research Group (AERG) of Trinity College who examined the role of visual arts integration in an inclusive society, and the creative connections between visual arts, ecology and environmentalism.

“Heads Up” allowed ReCreate, the artists and researchers to put their experience and passion for creativity and social inclusion into practice with reused materials. By using the philosophy “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand” the artists were encouraged to use the four themes of Aistear (the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework): Wellbeing, Identity and Belonging, Communicating, Exploring and Thinking in their approach to the workshops. Making and experimenting with our materials, enabled the children and adults to respond in exciting new ways. The activities were cross-curricular, process based and participant led, often extending into other areas of exploration that continued after the project.

You can find the full publication HERE

All Heads Together

Following it’s success, ReCreate embarked on an extension of the “Heads Up” project, “All Heads Together” in January 2017. The aim was to implement specialist continued professional development (CPD) training for those working with children and adults with additional needs and evaluate the success of this training in 12 educational settings using an artist in residence model. The impact was monitored through continual assessment, evaluation and feedback from the artists and teachers. To encourage Creative Reuse on a national scale, the ReCreate Handbook, sharing examples of best practice from the “All Heads Together” workshops, was produced to share with artists, educators, parents and communities across the country.

In direct response to the evidence based findings of “Heads Up,” the structure of “All Heads Together” was in 6 phases:
Phase 1: Drafting of Specialist Pedagogical Training Module – CPD (Continued Professional Development) Completed in April/May
A specialised training module was facilitated by ReCreate and Trinity College for artists and teachers participating in All Heads Together.
Phase 2: Assess Specialist Pedagogical Training Module and begin draft of the ReCreate Handbook – Working with reuse materials in inclusive primary and pre-school educational settings.
Phase 3: Continuation of phase 2 and begin draft of the ReCreate Manual for artists, teachers and others working with reused materials in inclusive and special educational needs settings
Phase 4: Specialist Pedagogical Training Module – CPD (Continued Professional Development) Completed May-June
Facilitated by ReCreate and Dr Carmel O’Sullivan, for artists and teachers participating in All Heads Together. The interest in this training was such that 21 additional participants working creatively within inclusive educational programmes and organisations took part.
Phase 5: Workshops with artists in 12 inclusive settings (6 pre-school and 6 primary schools) Completed September-November (168 hours of workshops in total)
Phase 6: Print in hard copy and on-line format the ReCreate Handbook – Evaluate and refine the arts strategies and practices which emerged as effective during the Heads Up and All Heads Together projects, and create a handbook for artists, teachers and others working with reuse materials in inclusive and special educational settings.

This Handbook provides an overview of some of the key concepts in contemporary educational theory and practice, and is designed to introduce artists and others with a professional interest in arts education, to some of these ideas. It aims to equip artists with a working knowledge and understanding of learning styles and pedagogical approaches, and offers guidance to artists and teachers working on school based projects together. All of this is framed within the context of working with reused materials in inclusive educational settings, where individuals with a disability and those without a disability work together in a sustainable manner.

You can find the full handbook HERE

ReCreate Blog

You can also keep up to date on our day to day experiences while working with different groups through the ReCreate Blog. Follow our Creative team along with guest posters as they share their findings and sometimes struggles while working through different programmes and private workshops throughout the year.

You can find the blog HERE