The performances at Shed Jam 13 ranged from singing, dancing and acting to spoken word poetry and comedy. There were common themes linking the performances, most notably issues young people face, like autism, disability and individuality, as well as being loving and accepting of other people.
When I was first invited to the event, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t known what spoken word poetry was, but I was looking forward to watching comedy and listening to jazz music. I was interested in learning more about Haringey Shed and the work that they do with young people.
I was greeted by the staff and students as I took my seat and settled down. The staff band were playing some jazz music as all of the guests arrived. Although the music was quite loud, the band were very good at playing the drums, keyboard and guitar.
The presenters Carla and David, members of Haringey Shed, introduced the first performers, The training band, made up of Haringey Shed members.
The theme for this year was ‘Where is the love?’ They explored this theme by asking ‘Where is the love’ in our communities, our homes and between one another? I think this was a good theme for them to explore because being part of a loving community and a happy home is important to young people.
The first solo performer was Lamont, who did some modern dance and body popping to a hip-hop track. I enjoyed watching him and he looked very comfortable in front of the audience. Then Jhonattan sang a pop song, and Georgia and Desrae read a poem about how lovely Christmas is, which I liked.
After that, the 1-4-1-9 theatre group (for 14-19 year olds) did a preview of their Christmas show, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I felt like their sneak peek was well-crafted and well-rehearsed. They chose to perform the part of the play when Scrooge gets a visit from Marley’s ghost, which was clever I felt as it left the audience wanting to see more.
Michael sang ‘When I was your man’ by Bruno Mars and acted out giving flowers to one of the girls (because the lyrics are ‘I should have bought you flowers’). Jermaine also performed to Bruno Mars, doing breakdancing to ‘24K Magic’ – including doing the splits and a flip, which certainly looked impressive!
There were several really good singers at Shed Jam 13 this year, in particular Alexandra, who sang ‘Lost And Found’ by Lianne La Havas. The tone of the song was somewhat emotional, but I didn’t mind that because her voice was beautiful and very soulful. The audience really enjoyed listening to her and clapped and cheered when she finished.
Alaz sang ‘Mercy’ by Shawn Mendes. He sang the whole song, even though he had a sore throat, and his mum joined him at the end of the song to help him finish, which was a very emotional moment for all.
Afterwards Carla performed a spoken word piece about autism and treating people with disabilities equally, which was good for helping people understand that autistic people shouldn’t be treated badly. One of the staff members, Nigel, then led a Christmas sing-along, which put us all in the festive mood.
The finale of the night was the Shed band who were very good when they performed ‘Where Is The Love’ by the Black Eyed Peas, in keeping with this year’s theme of ‘Where is the love?’. I thought the boy who rapped was particularly good, as he seemed very confident.
Haringey Shed is a charity that welcomes people of all abilities from many areas, not just Haringey. At Shed Jam 13 I noticed several young people with disabilities taking part, including a boy with Down Syndrome in their training band, an autistic boy who sang with his mum and a wheelchair user who rapped in the final act.
I think it is positive that Haringey Shed are so inclusive, because it shows that they care about all young people. It also helps the students without disabilities to understand more about those who are disabled, and be more aware and accepting of their needs.
Sometimes I need more help to participate than other people. At school I had a teaching assistant who helped me, and since leaving school I still need support to access the things I enjoy and teach me to be more independent.
If I had no support I would find it harder to access social groups. Haringey Shed make classes much more accessible and enjoyable for young people with disabilities, which I think is a really good network of support for their young people.