Throughout September and October, award-winning charity Create has been bringing together disabled and non-disabled students in Milton Keynes to develop inspiring new artwork to encourage increased use of the redways.
The health and social benefits of access to green space has been well-publicised over recent years with Natural Health England reporting that if everyone was given equal access to green space, the estimated saving to the NHS would be £2.1 billion.
To increase accessibility for local young people, Create is enabling students from White Spire School and mainstream students from Milton Keynes Academy to enhance the MK redway system by designing a series of artworks.
The redway system of shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians spans 270km. The project has been designed by Create in consultation with intu MK to enable local young people with and without disabilities to collaborate creatively and, in the process, feel welcomed into these green spaces by involving them in the decision-making around their improvement.
“We are delighted to be involved in this project; it’s lovely to see these young people working together to create something so positive for the local community,” said intu general manager Shelley Peppard.
“This artwork will vastly improve areas of Milton Keynes’ redways; we want these green areas to be somewhere we can all be proud of and that will attract more people to enjoy being outdoors, and the benefits that come with that.”
Guided by Create’s professional visual artist Daniel Lehan, participants have started by building and decorating clay birds, constructing a ‘bird hotel’ and producing models of other wildlife, which they will paint and collage. These designs will be used as inspiration by a professional artist, being commissioned by intu Milton Keynes, for a new artwork to be included in the redways.
“It’s fantastic to see this project bringing together young people from different backgrounds and fostering relationships between those with and without disabilities," said Create co-founder and chief executibe Nicky Goulder.
"Not only that but we’re seeing how the creative arts can be used to get young people engaging with their local natural environment and experiencing the benefits. We hope that their artwork will inspire the artist who is creating the final piece and strengthen the sense of community within the Milton Keynes redway system for everyone to enjoy.”