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Arts & Culture


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Children's animation an opportunity for joyful codesign and engaging outcomes

Published on

December 2, 2022

Maitree’s recent experience collaborating with advocacy organisation Autism MATES to reimagine their Timay The Turtle puppet show into a short animation has been one of our most successful codesign and creation processes to date.

“Co-creation lies at the heart of any determined effort to become inclusive and to draw in the wider community.” (Anne Torregiani, Building meaningful participation https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/article/building-meaningful-participation )

Many of us at Maitree come from a participatory storytelling and community arts background, so we are always looking for ways to integrate and improve codesign practices in each phase of our work. 

“During development of a project when we have the opportunity to work closely with people from the group who the work is designed to be supporting, we always have exceptional results,” says Senior Producer at Maitree, Peta Khan. “Our work with the NDIS and Autism MATES is a great example of this”

Overall at Maitree we are lucky to frequently work with clients in the education, heritage and community and social service sector whose values and processes are very aligned with our own. From the outset we knew the Timay project was an exciting one. 

The Timay story is written by Richard Habelrih, co founder of Autism MATES with his mother Randa. Richard is a young man on the autism spectrum and in Timay he transforms his experiences growing up with constant bullying into a story that inspires friendship and inclusion.

Originally presented to children as a puppet show, Maitree helped Richard and Randa reimagine the story into an endearing animation with a powerful anti-bullying message.

In terms of codesign, scriptwriter Sarah Hope worked closely with Richard to rewrite the work for screen. We ran artist workshops with young autistic people who created the beautiful background design elements for the animation. And we engaged young performers with autism who performed all the characters in the story, including of course Richard as Timay. 

“The young artists and performers we engaged were absolutely stand out in their professionalism and work. It was an absolute pleasure working with them,” says Peta Khan. “Given the opportunity we would love to continue the work and make a series of inclusive animation shorts with these young people.”

Special thanks also to the Maitree team and animation team who supported bringing the work to life: Emily Dash, Sarah Hope, Laura Lewis, Leigh Bramall, April Wong, Kok Loon Tan, Yi Kai Chew, Ricardo Facco, Dino Howl Animation & Dreamatix Studio.

Written by

Yi Kai Chew

Peta Khan

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