LOOKFest. So much to say, but where to start…?
Well, what makes our VI-accessible family weekend unique is that visually impaired young people are involved in the dreaming, planning, and running of the festival.
So let’s start there…
Not only are the majority of LOOK staff VI themselves or parents to VI children, but the majority of our LOOKFest volunteers are also visually impaired.
VI and sighted volunteers worked together to make the festival fully accessible for all – adding Braille signs to gorgeous tactile maps (stitched markings on canvas) of the site, and lots of other creative touches that brought the site to life for VI participations.
It was such a joy for us to have a weekend together at Humble by Nature, for some Mentors to have time with their mentees in person, to meet their families, and for the LOOK staff team to work side-by-side with some of our fabulous Mentors.
Thank you to to all our superstar volunteers who worked incredibly hard all weekend to make it the best possible experience for the families.
We had a blast! For early risers there was yoga and guide running, then through the day there were crafts, mud kitchen, circus skills, simply enjoying the farm setting, toasting marshmallows, spinning sounds sticks in the circus tents, making mosaics, trying out goalball, making robots, doing woodland crafts and whizzing down the slip and slide. There was so much to do, for all ages, and everything designed to be VI-accessible. Then in the evening, we had a ball, dancing in the ceilidh, performing in the talent show, and getting our glad rags on for the fancy dress disco. Memories to cherish.
Here’s LOOK CEO Charlotte setting out to explore the LOOKFest site with one of the young festival goers – matching white roller ball canes and teddies came too….
Wye Circus brought their circus tent and everyone got a chance to try out some circus skills. Here’s one young festival goer smiling in delight as he swings in a big hoop.
So many opportunities to create together…
The fabulous mud Kitchen, built by one of our volunteers, Adam Dyson, was a great sensory experience.
Here’s one teenage LOOKFester getting stuck in…
And after the busyness time to chill and enjoy an icecream from the van.
Sometimes simply sitting and relaxing together was all that was needed.
And enjoying quiet moments alone – there was space for everyone to be themselves and enjoy at their own pace.
After eating together in the big barn, volunteers carried tables and chairs to one side, and the fun began. The Ceilidh on the first night got everyone in the mood and firm friendships were made on the dance floor.
On the second night, the talent show, brilliantly compered by LOOK Mentor Matthew, gave our young participants the chance to shine. Some awesome talent displayed by our young performers.
And the fancy dress disco gave LOOK staff and volunteers the chance to step out in style too…
Charlotte recorded a short message for everyone who joined us at the festival, listen below!
Some LOOKFest moments – more photos coming soon
It wasn’t just fun for the families though! One of the wonderful things about LOOKFest is that our team gathered from far-flung places to be together. For some of us, it was the first time meeting off Zoom. Remote working is great, but nothing beats time together in person.
We had the best time, and can’t wait to do it again next year.
Don’t just take our word for it, what did the families say?
Here’s just a handful of the fantastic feedback we have received from families who went to LOOKFest:
We had a fantastic time it was so lovely to meet lots of other visually impaired families. The workshops were amazing and it was great that Gabby had a chance to do these. Also for me attending a parent workshop and talking to other parents and sharing lots of positive stories was so special. Gabby loved her first experience of camping, and her time playing in front of other people in the talent show made it all the more special too
The food has been delicious and all serving staff are brilliant. The bell tents are wonderful and so cosy. We don’t have one negative/suggestion to make and have truly had a great time.
Thank you all at LOOK and to all the wonderful and inspiring people we have met.
“Really exceptional event, meeting so many inspirational people, from the volunteers, team leaders, the Look staff, parents and the most amazing children, both VI and siblings supporting their brothers and sisters.
Meeting those of you from Parent Support Group face-to-face was awesome. It was just such a natural step. Seeing our children and young people getting on and also inspiring others was a memory that will stay with me. Thank you Jane for being such a strong role model to us. You make us a strong unit, made up of awesome parents, but your dedication, support, enthusiasm, listening ear & kind words and hard work are the catalysts that make us even stronger and such an amazing group.
Thank you all for being you! We are all enough and do a blooming good job of it”
For many it’s simply the joy of being with people who understand the highs and lows of living with sight loss, who just ‘get it’, and don’t have to explain.
“I love it that it’s a really big group, and it’s not just one person who can’t see and the rest who can see…. ” says LOOk mentee, Christina, in the video below:
“Everyone was so lovely and kind to us. We didn’t want to leave to go home.“
Thanks for coming and being part of such a special LOOKFest.
Can’t wait to gather the LOOK tribe again next year!