A BLIND teenage singer spoke fondly of her love of music when she attended a free summer school filled with adventure.
Isabelle Harrison, 15, from Llandegla, was one of the hundreds of young people who took part in School’s Out! courses organized by the North Wales Music Cooperative
It turned out to be such a success that the co-op’s website crashed within 24 hours of the announcement of the venue.
The group is an award-winning non-profit organization providing quality music lessons with two sister cooperatives in Denbighshire and Wrexham.
Isabelle, known as Izzy to her friends, was determined to make the most of her week which combined her two biggest passions: music and having fun with her friends.
She didn’t let her blindness stop her from doing everything from star hopping and push-ups, to rounds and learning to samba.
It was also the occasion to celebrate obtaining an award of merit during her last singing exam with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, for which she prepared with the help of her tutor from the Denbighshire Music Cooperative, Ann Davies.
Izzy said: “I feel so lucky to be able to attend summer school. It has been a fantastic pleasure. Everyone is awesome, very friendly and helpful.
“Over the past year, it has been very difficult to do everything online, not be in class with other students, and having to stay at home.
“I have four younger brothers and it was a big challenge, we all had to learn at home, at different levels. We are driving ourselves mad.
“But my music has helped me stay sane. I love to sing and sing around the house.
“I’m a social type and I like to go out and do things. That’s why, when this summer school came up, I said to myself “I have to do this”.
“It was great to finally come out and burn some energy. I loved learning samba and everyone was great in helping me get around, especially with the outdoor exercises and the obstacle course.
Izzy was among 150 kids, ages five and up, on School’s Out! program at Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin.
The other school is over! sessions are based at three schools in Wrexham including Ysgol ID Hooson in Rhos, St Mary’s School in Brymbo and Ysgol Heulfan in Gwersyllt.
All were a resounding success with young people from both counties, attracting over 700 applicants upon publication.
The activities were funded by the Welsh government and the money was allocated by the councils of Denbighshire and Wrexham as part of the Summer of Fun program.
North Wales Cooperative Founder and Head of Department Heather Powell said: “We were blown away. School is over ! The website was so popular that it crashed within 24 hours of announcing our 2021 summer school dates.
” School is over ! program has been specially designed for the well-being of students after the difficult times of the past 18 months.
“This has been such a big request from young people like Isabelle and other children who have had to completely change the way they learn and their whole approach to education.
“Having classes at home requires new skills and emotionally and physically demanding self-discipline.
“They also have to spend a lot more time working up close on screen which can be doubly tiring, so with the summer school we are emphasizing outdoor activities and the possibility for all. to let off steam.
“Mental wellness is so important to children and we wanted it to be fun and as much mental release as possible for them. ”
Funded by the County Councils of Denbighshire and Wrexham, the Summer Schools are free to participants and offer a mix of music, sports and performing arts sessions.
The music modules are led by tutors from Denbighshire and Wrexham Music Cooperatives, who during the rest of the year work intensively with schools and individual clients to deliver lessons on a wide range of instruments from music and voice.
For the workouts, they’ve teamed up with Colwyn Bay-based Commando X-Fit Wales.
Founded by ex-Royal Marines Adam White and Dan Harrison, Commando X-Fit offers bespoke exercise programs to suit different age groups and abilities.
Instructor Dan added, “Our goal is for children to get the most out of it in terms of mental well-being and physical fitness. It’s not a competition, it’s about working together and having fun too.
The performing arts element of the summer school is led by West End actor Craig Ryder, from Llanrwst, and fellow actress Jenny Jones.
Craig, who has been helping run the summer schools for about seven years, said the past two years have been exceptional in how all of the tutors have taken on the challenges of a different format.
He said: “I think we have a great formula here that the kids benefit in so many ways.”
Heather added that she and other music teachers are now looking forward to a return to face-to-face music lessons in the new school term.
She said: “We are all looking forward to going back to schools in September and offering private lessons again.”
The chairman of the Denbighshire Music Co-operative, Councilor Mark Young, was delighted that the summer school was such a success.
He said: “It has been a very difficult 18 month period for everyone and it has had a major impact on our children and youth, so these activities have been the perfect antidote.”
Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Senior Member of Denbighshire County Council for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, added: “The council is delighted that the Denbighshire Music Cooperative has been able to organize a great series of events for students as part of the Summer of Fun program.
“Helping our young people reach their potential is a priority for the Council and Summer of Fun has provided some fantastic opportunities this year. ”