Magnus's Many Musical Talents

Magnus Turpie is a musician from Edinburgh. He has been hit hard by lockdown, and with the withdrawal of his Day service, has spent 11 of the past 12 months at home and unable to connect with his friends and other musical pals at all, other than by Zoom.

In spite of this difficult period though, Magnus has characteristically striven to keep positive and he has delivered a few ‘lockdown live’ performances over Facebook live.

Here are a few bits and pieces of videos he has made over the past while:

Magnus's Day in the Life with Paragon Music
For the folk at Crisis at Christmas
Magnus on the fiddle playing harmony to contribute to the Christmas community project by the band Fara
Magnus on trombone with GD Jam

Up until then, Magnus has been a regular player at ceilidhs, pub sessions and festivals over the years, has participated in many music-making programmes which have helped him to develop his skills, including Tinderbox Collective, Totally Sound, City Music Café, GD JAM (Edinburgh Jazz & Blues festival), Paragon Ensemble, and Drake Music Scotland.

Finally, to see Magnus in concert with Fionn Crombie Angus on fiddle, tune in to their event next Tuesday 23rd March at 8pm on Facebook live, there will be trad Celtic tunes and, no doubt, a bit of banter too – you can find all the details at: https://www.facebook.com/events/432173531188557/

Kids Rock 21 and Choir 21 Share their Hopes and Dreams

Kids Rock 21 is a group for pre-school and primary aged children lead by Katy Lironi. Over the last month, we have been talking about our favourite things to do and put together this song which they joined in helping sing and sign along.

Choir 21 is our group for anyone over 10 to come along and have fun singing and signing. Throughout March we have been talking about our hopes and dreams for the future. Everyone shared their wonderful hopes and dreams for the future with Katy so that she could add their beautiful words to one of Choir 21 favourite songs "Somewhere over the rainbow". They shared some amazing hopes and dreams for their colourful futures, from studying art at university to being singers on stage, magnificent chefs, and one day owning a cat called Pinky! We hope all their dreams come true! They are an inspirational group of young people to work with.

You can find out more about both these groups on our website and members can book a place via Hub 21.

Georgie's Stunning Landscapes

Georgie is 16 and has recently taken up art and painting as a hobby. Her mum Ann tells us a bit about Georgie and her paintings.

Georgie often says “Oh wow!” when she sees a beautiful view. She took a photo of the sunset and wanted to paint it.

Here’s a clip of her putting the pastel colours down and blending the colours with a wet brush.

Here is another painting Georgie did recently. She did this painting over several days following an online workshop. She loved using the bright colours, especially for the flowers. Along with her mum she made this into cards and sold them to raise money for Down’s Syndrome Scotland. She has now sold 300 cards. They delivered some to local friends and posted the rest. Georgie wanted to sell her cards to raise money for Down’s Syndrome Scotland by way of a thank you for all the support and sociable fun she has had online throughout lockdown. If you would be interested in buying some (£2.90 each or 4 for £10) please email Georgie’s mum on ann.butler14 @hotmail.com.

Down’s Syndrome Scotland were determined to provide this online support throughout lockdown and this has worked really well for Georgie. She has really developed the ability to engage with others online. It obviously isn’t the same as in-person communication but, given that the family has always lived in quite remote places, Georgie has been able to make more friends with Down’s syndrome this year than ever before.

Thanks to TeenZspace and the Branch activities she has recently enjoyed: drama from the West of Scotland Branch, Singing Hands from the Edinburgh and Lothians branch, a Christmas disco with the Aberdeen Branch and a pet show, Karaoke, Laughing Yoga, a Superheroes party, jewellery making and fruit kebab making as part of TeenZspace. Georgie has had so much fun and her confidence and communication have both developed hugely.

In addition she has benefited from wonderful online workshops with Paragon Music some of which were in partnership with DSS.

Besides her Art, her other emerging talent and enthusiasm during lockdown has been her golf. She has spent hours practising her swing and her putting. Here’s a glimpse of her in action.

Before lockdown Georgie was loving her work experience at the amazing Loch Arthur Camphill Community. Georgie worked in the bakery and, with wonderful supportive friends, she was in her element! She hopes to see them again once restrictions ease. Georgie really enjoys school and is very much looking forward to getting back after Easter. She has another year to go and it will be exciting to see what she does next...

She loves her art, her baking, her golf, music, dance and, most of all, she loves having sociable fun, helping people and making people laugh! It’ll be fascinating to see where her life takes her.

Sam's Wonderful Wildlife Photography

Sam Pattison is a keen and talented photographer, his Mum Carol tells us a bit about how his interest in photography developed and what he has done so far.

"Sam used to swim for Scotland and GB Downs Syndrome team. He swam at four DS world championships. Portugal. Taiwan. Italy and Mexico. When he gave up swimming he took up the gym and weights. He still does weights and keep fit at home. He then took up photography about four years ago.

Sam got his camera for a Christmas present after showing interest in photography. His main focus is wildlife photography, but he also enjoys taking photos of people, country scenes and general photography.

We set up a bird table down in the woods and he enjoys sitting there taking photos of various birds and learning the names. He really loves getting photos of deer and will walk a long way and spend time trying to see them. He is very patient.

We have made up calendars on Snapfish for friends and family using his photos. We have also done a couple of cards. Sam took a lot of photos at a friends wedding reception, we put them in an album for them and they were over the moon.

Photography has definitely helped Sam during lockdown, it has been something to get us out of the house and focus on. Sam has also been part of FriendZ Space and led a couple of sessions on Photography which has boosted his confidence a lot.

Sam would like to make his photography into a permanent job. However, he has still got a lot of experience to gain."

Here are a selection of Sam's photographs

Award-winning choreographer and dance artist Neil

Neil Joseph Price was born on the Island of South Uist in the Western Isles.  After moving to Glasgow and progressing through school and college, Neil embarked on a highly successful sporting career with Special Olympics travelling to all corners of the globe representing Scotland and Team GB.  He even became one of the Olympic Torch bearers running in the streets of London for the 2012 Olympic Games.  After ten years of working with Tesco, Neil pursued his other passion in life, dance, when he joined the award-wining inclusive dance company, Indepen-dance in 2009.  He hasn’t looked back since!

When Neil started working with Indepen-dance he delivered workshops for the weekly core programme. His dancing talent quickly grew and he joined ‘Indepen-dance 4’ (the company’s ensemble group) in 2013 and has now worked with many well-known choreographers, touring nationally and internationally. In 2017, Neil was awarded “Best Dance Performer in Scotland” by the Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards. This gave him the further confidence and inspiration to create his own choreography. With the support of his uncle, Frank McConnell – Artistic Director of Plan B, Neil performed his first choreographic solo – Tantalus in March 2019; described as ”an intensely personal statement of aspiration and achievement in the face of pitfalls” and described the challenges that a young man with Down’s syndrome may encounter in life.

As they say in the reviews ‘. . .one to watch’.

You can watch a clip from their latest show here:

You can find out more about Indepen-dance here: www.indepen-dance.org.uk

Megan's Ice Skating Success

Megan is a gold medal-winning Ice Skater who has competed in Scottish, British and International Skating competitions. Her Mum Siobhan tells us a bit more about Megan's experiences:

"Megan is 19 and has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism. She is very active and has won many Gold medals through Inclusive and Special Olympic Ice Skating.  Megan absolutely loves ice-skating and is a different person when she is on the ice. There is something magical when she skates.

Megan’s ice-skating journey began in 2013 when we, as a family, all joined the amazing Iskate Inclusive Skating Club at the Time Capsule Coatbridge.

The club was founded by Margarita Sweeney-Baird in order that skaters, and their families, with a disability or impairment could come together for a common purpose: to develop their skills in ice-skating and have fun together.

Megan has won many medals and achievements in her ice-skating since she started.  She has competed in lots of Scottish, British and International Inclusive Skating competitions.

There have been many amazing times in her skating life but some of her most memorable highlights include:

Megan is missing her sport just now but is keeping active and practising her ice-skating skills by participating in twice-weekly off-ice sessions with her fantastic coach, Rebecca Hutchison.

Megan has experienced and achieved so much through Inclusive Skating but the biggest achievement is the many lovely friends that she has made through ice-skating."

Matilda's debut single Invisible

Matilda wrote Invisible while on holiday with her family in rural Italy in 2015. She wanted to record the song to remind her of happier times and to celebrate World Down’s Syndrome Day. 

The video is a joint project with Matilda and her sisters with Amelia on backing vocals and Flora producing and editing the video.

 Matilda’s Mum Katy tells us about how Invisible came about:

“In what now seems like a past life we used to holiday in a rural village in the south of Italy. There was little do but swim at the local lake and sit on the balcony gazing at the surrounding hills. There is no TV, no landline, no pub or shop in the village and a very dodgy mobile phone connection Holidaying here with 5 teenagers over the last few years has produced various results, from the wonderful to the traumatic. It takes everyone a few days to come down from their technology norm and revert to Selvone-time. But it’s in that space where technology, school, clubs and everyday commitments usually reign that little bits of magic can happen. And so it was with Matilda’s song writing.

The last time we visited Selvone Matilda was 15 years old. For the first 10 years or so of her life Matilda was almost impossible to contain – clambering over balconies, disappearing into lifts, sprinting round corners in foreign streets, she caused us many an anxious hour or so, then her teen years hit and she became almost impossible to move, motivate or inspire. I know it’s similar with many teens, but Matilda’s extra chromosome can make the stages that little bit more extreme and protracted.  But the last time we were in Selvone she surprised us all with her sudden and prolific love of song writing.

We were sitting on the grassy banks of Lago Selva reading, lazing, swimming, playing bat and ball, when we became aware that Matilda was very engrossed in her new notebook. “Can you help me?” she asked.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m writing a song”

“Oh! Ok, what’s it called?”

“Invisible”

She had the title and the first few lines and was very focussed on the song style and how it should progress. It was the first time I’d known her to show any interest in song writing and it was an interest that continued throughout the holiday and for many empty months of future lock down back home, filling several note books. We sat together on the banks of the lake, me offering her some rhymes and her directing the feel of the song, and by the end of the afternoon “Invisible” was born.

Matilda is an astute, sensitive girl and she absolutely loves singing, dancing and performing, although in recent years she has struggled with acute stage fright and anxiety. Which goes to show that even the most seemingly outwardly confident people have hidden depths that we may never see.

Matilda has been lucky in lockdown. She focused all her energies in lockdown 1 into her kitchen concerts on Facebook. Winter lockdowns haven’t been so easy, but we know how lucky she is, surrounded by siblings, she hasn’t experienced real isolation. But there are certainly days where she lives in her pjs, glued to her phone, watching Glee and musicals on repeat, memorising obscure cast members’ names and biographies, days when she meltdowns at the near constant squabbling of her siblings, and all we can do is dream of that distant future when we may sit on the banks of Lago Selva once more and she gets the quiet, solitude and space to start pouring her feelings and ideas into more heartfelt songs.

We hope her single will raise awareness of the many and varied abilities of people with Down’s syndrome and the amazing things that can be achieved when the right support and encouragement is put in place.”

Invisible will be available to download and stream from Sunday 21st March, World Down’s Syndrome Day via iTunes and Spotify. All funds raised will go to Down’s Syndrome Scotland.

Andrew's 21 in 21

Thank you to Andrew who has been doing 21 minutes of rhythmic gymnastics training each day since the start of the month as his 21 in 21 challenge.

Thank you for your support and we hope that you have been enjoying taking part Andrew, you are wonderful!

You can read Andrew's story and show your support here.

Ava's 21 in 21

A huge thank you to Ava and her mum Cara who have been taking part in 21in21 this month. On WDSD, the final day of their challenge, Ava and Cara will walk round Heritage Loch 21 times, which will total 15 miles!!

Thank you both so much for your incredible support, you are amazing. You can read their story and show your support by visiting their JustGiving page here.

Support Take A Step Forward with a social media Twibbon

You can show your support for Take A Step Forward by adding a Twibbon to your Facebook or Twitter profile picture!

Simply visit twibbon.com/support/take-a-step-forward/ to add yours. Be sure to tag us @dsscotland and share your pictures with us as well.