Today is World Voice Day. An annual, worldwide celebration of the voice and its importance in our lives. Part of this celebration is, of course, to promote the importance of having a physically healthy voice, but our voices also have an incredible influence over our wellbeing and our ability for creativity. That too is something to celebrate.
The voice is a fundamental tool for emotional communication and is highly significant to our quality of life and how we form relationships with others. It can be used to create art – as a musical instrument in singing, to recite poetry and finally to tell stories.
Our Suffolk at Play project brings school pupils and older people together to share their stories of childhood play. Working with a reminiscence facilitator, a poet and an animation artist, they talk about their childhood memories and create poems, prose and animations inspired by them. Their work will contribute to a new heritage resource, ensuring that their voices will be passed on to future generations.
We all have memories of the games we played as children – the places in which we played, the people we shared our games with, and the games that kept us occupied throughout the year. Many of these memories might not have been spoken aloud for a long time and some may have even been forgotten until the present moment, but they are part of who we are; part of our own, personal story and the broader story of the place and time in which we grew up.
By bringing together two generations of people, who would probably not have otherwise met, Suffolk at Play demonstrates how we can use verbal storytelling (through chatting, singing, filming or playing) to create new relationships and hear new voices, developing a greater understanding of one another in the process.
As Suffolk Artlink’s celebration of World Voice Day, here are just a few of the stories that have been shared through our Suffolk at Play sessions so far:
“My bike opened up the world for me. I went everywhere, cycled all over the place. As we got older we used to have races. Once we raced to Brighton – 52 miles there, 52 miles back – and when we got there we said, ‘right, we’ll sleep here tonight, under the Pier’; it was exciting. We’d have a packet of chips and a bottle of Tizer and plan what we were going to do the next weekend.” – Ernie, Bury St Edmunds
“I was brought up in Kenya, we lived on the fringes of the estate in what was the first outpost in Nairobi. We lived close to the National Park and we would go sailing on the Nairobi Dam. We were warned that if we capsized we should stay on top of the boat because of crocodiles, not that I saw any. Everyone stayed on top of the boats, though!” – Roger, Lowestoft
“There was this farm, we called it Pimmy’s Farm. We used to go down and climb over the fence and go in – it was like a swamp field really, we’d pick buttercups. There was a little brook going through there and we’d take a jam jar and get frog spawn, and if the farmer saw you, he’d let the pigs out, to chase you away.” – Maureen, Lowestoft
“My first memories of playing were in bombed buildings. Our house, where I was born, was bombed, but then nearly every street in Lowestoft had bombed houses. It was one of the most bombed towns in the country.” – Barbara, Lowestoft
“When we were little, we used to bury different toys in our garden – we’re still trying to find them.” – Kieran and Joseph, Lowestoft
“We used to go into the trees and play Tarzan and Jane, we’d tuck our skirts into our knickers and climb trees or pretend we had a horse … on Saturday mornings we’d go to the pictures, and I think that’s where we’d get a lot of the ideas for our games.” – Janet, Bury St Edmunds
“We were outside all the time – in the summer holidays we would just roam around the fields. We lived with nature – we didn’t necessarily play games in the fields, we just enjoyed being there. I could name all the birds, and recognise their songs, and knew the names of the plants.” – Lelia, Bury St Edmunds
“I had a small tent with flowers all over it. I played in it downstairs in the conservatory. I took my dolls in there, and I’d do drawing and sometimes I had my dinner in there; when my friends came round we’d all play inside it together. One night, we put the tent outside and we were going to sleep all night in it – but we got scared and came in.” – Amber B, Bury St Edmunds
“I’ve had this teddy bear since I was two. One day we were driving in the car and I don’t know why but I opened the window and threw my teddy out – I just thought it needed some fresh air. Mum had to stop and turn the car round to go back and pick it up.” – Ryan, Bury St Edmunds
“Christchurch Street in Ipswich was reasonably steep – and we’d play go carts there. We made the go carts – we’d take 2 small pieces of board and nail them together as best we could, then we’d have a pair of pram wheels at the front and another pair at the back. There were no brakes, you’d simply stick your toes down to slow yourself down – of course you scratched all the toes off your shoes and mother and father weren’t best pleased. At the bottom of the hill there was a junction, and we’d dare each other to see who would go the furthest. If anything came out of the junction and across the road you had to stick your toes down fast and swerve out of the way very quickly.” – Roy, Felixstowe
“Near the house there was a pit, and when it rained it used to fill up with water. We would strip off and paddle in it. One day there was an enormous thunder storm – our parents knew that we were scared of thunder, so they stood at the back door and watched as we ran, completely naked and with our clothes bundled under our arm, back to the house. They thought it was so funny…I suppose we must have been a sight.” – Lelia, Bury St Edmunds
Aren’t they wonderful? For more stories from Suffolk at Play have a look at the Reminiscence Booklets in the Gallery section of our website or visit the Suffolk at Play blog site at www.suffolkatplay.primaryblogger.co.uk.
Use your voice and share a story to celebrate World Voice Day!