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Reni’s Journey with Swag

How Reni found her voice through singing with Swag

A young person in Swag choir, wearing their hair in space buns and a headband sings into a microphone they're holding on stage at Sing Out

Swag

Swag is a fun, energetic and vibrant weekly singing group for Doncaster children and young people aged 9-16 who perform chart hits with choreography and harmonies. It is less about how well singers can harmonise, or how many notes they can hit, and more about singing and performing the songs that participants want to hear, with people who have a passion for music, in a safe supportive space.

Swag has created a community of young people with a huge range of experiences, dealing with a huge range of inequalities, and has broken down countless barriers, enabling them to connect, grow and make music together.

Reni’s darts Story

Reni* is sixteen years old. She has always loved to sing and perform but four years ago, she became seriously ill and lost a lot of mobility, as well as her sight. During her recovery, Reni wanted to start singing again, but opportunities to make music in a fun, relaxed environment that could also cater for her needs were almost impossible to find.

When Reni lost her sight and started facing increased medical needs, her confidence and sense of independence really faltered. Then Reni began coming to Swag, and began to rediscover her voice.

I started coming, and when I came, honestly, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s given me so much confidence coming here. Especially with vision loss.

Finding a community

“It gave me a bit of an outlet knowing that I had friends to come to and sing along with. Even if we had nothing in common, we had the music in common.”

As the weeks progressed, Reni became a really active member of Swag, singing solos in sessions, suggesting song choices and performing at Doncaster venues. Since coming to Swag and finding her place in and friendly, inclusive community, Reni brought along two friends that are visually impaired, knowing how much they would enjoy it too. Reni told us that Swag is not about being in a place where people are forced to fit in. It is about building a community where everyone’s talents and passion for music is celebrated, and where everyone is accepted no matter what.

I introduced them and since they started coming – my best friend has always had a dream of becoming a singer – Swag is all she ever talks about. It really opened up a place for her to be able to sing.

Next steps

At the time of writing, Reni is preparing to move to a residential college that can best cater for her needs whilst enabling her to study. Although moving schools is often a daunting prospect for most teenagers, Reni told us she feels confident knowing that she has found her voice, and has a way to connect with her new classmates through her love of singing.

“The college that I’m going to, I’ve already been told that there are quite a few singers there, which I’ll fit in with and I know I can continue singing there. It’s given me more confidence and a bit of an outlook knowing I’ll be able to sing there.”

 

Support participants like Reni through donating to darts, or to get involved with community fundraising, get in touch with Eliza at eliza@wearedarts.org.uk. To find out more about Swag and joining a session, contact Sophie via Sophie@wearedarts.org.uk.

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