It All Started With A Small Tank Engine – Happy 70th Anniversary, Thomas and Friends

“There was no doubt in my mind that steam engines all had definite personalities. I would hear them snorting up the grade and little imagination was needed to hear in the puffings and pantings of the two engines the conversation they were having with one another: ‘I can’t do it! I can’t do it! I can’t do it!’ ‘Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can!'”

Those were the words of the late Reverend Wilbert Awdry, whose memory of hearing trains, travelling past his house in the night (while listening in his bed) later became the inspiration for Edward and Gordon, one of the first stories in the Railway Series books. Now, seventy years later, it’s hard to imagine children not seeing their favourite number one tank engine. But today, Thomas and Friends haven’t just won the hearts of children.

It seems that Thomas’ fans are children and adults on the autism spectrum. So why is Thomas so popular? For so many, Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends play an important role for helping their social and creative skills, such as human emotions, imagination and communication. Through these experiences, both children and adults begin to have strong relationships with Thomas, when they have a few or no friends of their own. Thomas can also give comfort, and make children and vulnerable adults safe in their world, when they are frightened and/or upset. Because of this, Thomas’ relationships with the children and adults last longer than their siblings.

As a child with autism, I used to love Thomas; I would watch my old videos of every early episodes (between 1984 and 2000) and Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Watching them made me feel safe and secure whenever I had a bad day. I loved Thomas, as much I loved watching my other favourite children’s shows including Fireman Sam and Postman Pat. Like so many children with autism, I was fascinated with the scenery, background, colours, the stories, storylines and the imaginative play. Looking back on certain episodes as an adult, nothing has changed. I guess I can say I’m young at heart.

I wonder what Awdry will think of Thomas and the small blue engine changed the world? All it took was pure imagination, and amazing creativity to make Thomas and his friends a reality. It’s hard to believe that seven generations of children and adult alike still remember Thomas the Tank Engine. Along with eighteen series’, two hundred and forty-one episodes and eleven films, I can see that Thomas and his friends will continue to live on forever and possibility the next seventy years.

And with that, I leave you with this final sentence:

Thank you, Thomas

For making our childhood,

And for being there when we needed you.

So, Happy Birthday Thomas

And many happy returns to you,

On the year of your seventy birthday.   

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Childhood Poem

Note: This is a short poem I wrote yesterday in class. This term, my peers and I in Drama school are putting on a performance in the middle of May to babies and toddlers for a children’s festival. One of the first things we did when the lesson started was to write down and share about everyone’s childhood, based on your experience. We had to start with the sentence, “Childhood is…” During this time, I wrote down six words; then, I used them to write the poem down below.

I hope you guys really enjoy it. 🙂


Childhood is imaginative; 

Childhood is creative and inspiring;

Although life is hard,

It can be mind blowing.


Childhood is the life

And soul of creativity;

It’s hard to imagine a world 

Without the beauty of creativity.


  


Copyright 2015

IPM Misogyny Stereotype

Note: This is an article I wrote for Drama school. Last term, my class were focusing on including and excluding subjects that the world suffers and in our spare time, we were asked to research and send information that are either inclusive or excluding. I’ve chosen many subjects and some, I’ve written in articles and a monologue. I have updated it so it can be read in the near future. This is my second article from Drama school that I have published online; I’m hoping to do more but I’m really busy at the moment, but I’ll see how it goes beforehand.  

In December 2014, I was listening to the weekly radio programme on BBC Radio 4 called IPM. On one programme, there was an interview with a mother and a young boy called Gus.

In the interview, Gus’ mother tells the reporter that she allows him to play eighteen rated video games at home. She does this because the mother knows Gus won’t copy the violence and inappropriate behaviour when he is off his games console. One day, Gus wanted to buy and play Grand Theft Auto 5; his friends already had the game. However, his mother researched the game online and decided not to buy Auto 5. She explained to Gus that she didn’t want to buy the game because she of the negative reviews about how the game portrays their female characters with misogyny.

After arguing about it, Gus asked his mother that if she didn’t like the women in Auto 5, why the Catholic Church doesn’t allow women to become priests. The mother explained she came from a Catholic background and went to a Catholic school, where she was taught by nuns.

When the interview finished, Gus said he wrote to the creators of Grand Theft about the misogyny they use in the game but said that they haven’t got back to him yet.

When I was listening to the interview, I was shocked and appalled that Gus’ mother allowed him to play video games, which contain violence and sex. In terms of minor law, Gus shouldn’t be allowed to play adult games, even if his mother is buying the games for him. This is an example of bad parenting. Parents should have discipline over her child/children about things that aren’t allowed to use if the child or their children are under age.

However, what is worse about Auto 5 is that the female characters are the subjects of sexual objectification, portraying them as sexy, an ally, a sidekick (to the male protagonist), and a damsel in distress, “uncreative” characters to be laughed, and sneered at or villains. Also, the game Auto 5 has scenes of sexism. This is absolutely disgraceful. What does it show when people play this game?

Women shouldn’t be going off into the streets and showing off so they can impress men. Instead, they should be loyal to their men; their husbands, fathers, guardians, etc. And what has religion got to do with console games? It makes no sense.

In Christian bible, there are rules that teach women how to be respectable towards their men:

 

Man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

(1 Corinthians 11:3-10)

Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.

(Ephesians 5:21-30)     

It is clear that men are in charge. They are teachers to the women; they need to be taught to love, honour, and respect the men and need to stay at home instead of going out to night clubs and on the streets. As for women’s rights to become priests, it is out of the question; the church forbids women to take on the role. If a woman is elected to be a priest or the next candidate for pope, it would be humiliating; women are the weaker sex compared to men, who are stronger and wiser. I mean to do such a thing is a crime against nature. Its clear women are not allowed to be priests because of their notorious behaviour and sex.

However, I hate it when videogames like Grand Theft bring feminism. These games portray women (even in the modern day) as weak and unable to fend for themselves. The creators of Auto 5 have made their female characters that way because a lot of male gamers regularly play games like these. But it comes as no surprise that mass media has a history of badly portraying women. There are hardly ever female protagonists in the game; most of them are men. What’s more shocking is that 52% of game console players in the UK are women. Despite the low figures, the development team really have overlooked their female characters.

It was right for Gus’ mother to say “no” to buy Auto 5; it is an insult to modern women. What would children today will learn about women? That all of them are prostitute’s and slaves to men?

What Gus asked about women who aren’t allowed to become priests in the Catholic Church was a rhetorical question; he makes a good point about women’s roles in Catholicism. Although it is difficult to appoint women as priests, there are women who try to make this possible. One example is the story of an ex-Austrian nun named Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger. She used to be a Catholic Nun but was excommunicated by the Vatican in 2003 after being ordained as a priest.

Mayr-Lumetzberger was part a group, full of Catholic women known as the “Danube Seven”. The group choose to take direct action against Catholicism laws by ordaining themselves as priests in secret. When Rome found out, they were angry and excommunicated the women, under instructions from the Bible. In the Catholic Church, excommunication is regarded as a punishment for the extremely bad sinners.  However, this didn’t stop Mayr-Lumetzberger.

Today, she is working as a female priest in Austria and performs Baptisms and Weddings in Catholic churches; she has even performed a funeral beside a male priest. By doing this, Mayr-Lumetzberger is showing the world that Catholic women can be good Catholic priests.

Although Catholic women are not allowed to become priests, Protestant and Anglican churches are. It’s interesting that the Catholic Church have decided to keep their traditional laws; I believe they don’t trust women. The Catholic Church are really falling behind.

When I hear the song “It Is a Man’s World” by James Brown, it reminds me of the pain and suffering women had to go through in the past and who still struggle today. In many parts of the world, women still struggle while the dominant influence of men continue to rise. But, there is still a chance for women to become Catholic priests in the future. And who knows? One day, we will have female priests. Maybe the mass media industry won’t prejudice women and create modern female characters that’ll become heroines in their own right. It is possible but it will be a slow process. Hopefully, it won’t be long because this world would be nothing without women or girls.

My first conclusion to Auto 5 is that the game is being discriminate towards females. But it is no surprise. From what I have read and heard about the characters the Grand Theftcreators have put in is disgusting. It is a shame for such talent to be wasted when they could create female characters with no sex appeal or weak sense of humours.

In my second conclusion, I completely disagree what they show and think about women. Through my mother, I was baptised and later joined the Catholic Church. However, I do not agree with their rules, focusing on women. There is a great opportunity that is being missed by mass media interests and members of the Catholic Church.

However in the article I read about Mayr-Lumetzberger, I heard that Pope Francis is trying to change things, so it could be possible for women to become priests in the Catholic Church:

“It is difficult to start on that road. I hope the presence of people like me make it a little bit easier”, says Mayr-Lumetzberger. “The Catholic Church in general is good. It is just that it is blind in one eye.”

So, I hope there will be an opportunity to see this change very soon and see what the world will look like in fifty years’ time when women will be completely equal to men. The world will properly look different then, but its up to the present to put things right. How will it happen? We don’t know yet for sure; all we can do now is wait, hopefully not for long.

Toy Stereotypes Monologue

Note: This is a monologue I wrote for Drama school. Last term, my class were focusing on including and excluding subjects that the world suffers and in our spare time, we were asked to research and send information that are either inclusive or excluding. I’ve chosen many subjects and some, I’ve written in articles and two monologues. This is the first I have put online but I’ll see how it goes before I’ll post some more.  

When I was a little girl, I had a mixture of toys to play with. I had stuffed animals, dressing up clothes, cooking toys, Barbie and Disney dolls. I grew up being a girly-girl and I was very happy being one. Years later in one my practical sessions at Chickenshed, I overheard my friends discussing how toys are stereotypical towards children in the past and now. This really shocked me; I never knew that toys can be stereotypical.

So, I decided to do some research on the subject. I discovered that most toys like princess dresses and Nerf guns can divide gender sexes and make them feel like they are outcasts. For example, someone might say cooking toys and baby dolls are for girls because it this their job to cook, clean and take care of their families in the home or pink is a girls colour while boys can have blue because that is generally acceptable to have them. In my view, I see this view stereotype as a ridiculous way to learn. Why be old-fashioned when you can be creative and break traditions at the same time?

In the early stages of the twenty-first century, we are seeing loads of radical chances. One of these being changing the way we play toys or wear costumes. There are many examples I have found:

  • Boys being hairdressers
  • Girl dolls teaching them to be leaders
  • Parents allowing their boys to play with dolls
  • Children playing with dolls who have different abilities
  • Girls who wear costumes that mixed with princesses and superheroes – proof that princesses don’t need rescuing
  • Girls can play and pretend to be engineers as well as boys

These bullet points show that not all boys and girls have to stick to boyish and girlish games or toys.

I am proud for some parents who break the boundaries and let their children play with different toys because it teaches the children to be inclusive and to not make them feel left out but it is sad not all parents to that. I hope in the future that someday, every parent will allow their sons to be hairdressers and their girls to be superheroes; that is a dream I would like someday to be fulfilled. Maybe one day, I would allow my children to play with different toys because I want them to grow up to be inclusive people and not be excluded by other children.

Are Children’s Games Excluding?

Note: This is an old article I wrote last term for Drama school; my class were focusing on including and excluding subjects that the world suffers and in our spare time, we were asked to research and send information that are either inclusive or excluding. I’ve chosen many subjects and some, I’ve written in articles. This is the first I have put online but I’ll see how it goes before I’ll post some more.  

When I was a young girl, I remember going to after-school events, classes and holiday workshops like Girl Guides and school productions. Although I liked the activities they did, my favourite thing was to play games. However, what I didn’t realise was how some of my favourite childhood games were excluding. I was pretty shocked about this situation and I’m still shocked that these kinds of prejudice still exist today.

In one lesson on Developing Inclusion Children’s Theatre, my class peers and I did various exercises on inclusion and excluding activities for Children’s and Youth Theatre Workshops; most of them used original games like “Musical Chairs” as examples for activities that are excluding, then tried to alternate them so the games are inclusive for everyone. Afterwards, we had discussions about them, as a whole year group. And it is their discussions that have inspired me to write this article and explain why some of my favourite games are excluding.

I have been excluded by some of these games but I choose five because, I believe they can exclude an entire group, not just individuals themselves.

  • Duck, Duck, Goose – It is a traditional game that children first learn in nursery or reception at school, but what makes this game excluding? While the rules are simple, playing the game isn’t. Duck, Duck, Goose isn’t a fair game to play because children will often pick their close friends to be the ones chasing them and what about the children in wheelchairs? The chairs won’t be able to come out of the circle or chase after their peers. This is completely unfair for them because they won’t get a chance to join in and have fun.
  • Splat – Otherwise known as Bang, this game was a personal favourite at the Girl Guides. This was the first game (I didn’t know at first) I came to realise that was excluding. Not only the leader chooses who the splatter is, but the person who’s the splatter chooses who gets splatted and who is out. The peers have to be quick ducking and splatting opponents, otherwise they are out, until there are two people remaining. Children will often get jealous when they see an individual winning a game and this can lead to arguments.
  • Fruit Salad – It is very creative and a good learning game to teach children how to eat healthily (in my opinion). But, it is excluding because the leader, again, chooses a player to lead the game, divide their peers into groups and calls on the names of fruit to change places, separately, despite a few chances when everyone will stand up and find chairs to sit on.
  • The Name Game – It’s a great way to get to know your peers names. However, this is excluding in many different ways; what I’m interested in is the physically within the game. Again, it is a problem for wheelchair users. While other children can happily free use action moves to go with their name, they will not be able to. They’ll be stuck, only having to say just their name rather joining in with creative actions when it’s their turn.
  • Runner Beans – It is another physical game (and it used to make me giggle a lot when I used to play it). But like “Splat”, it is excluding because there is only one person who would lead the game; in other words, the leader. Then, the children would have to listen to instructions like “French Beans” or “Baked Beans” and copy each other, acting out the beans, using their bodies. These include lying down, flat on the floor or jogging on the spot like athletes. It is a huge problem for wheelchair users because they won’t be able to appreciate at all.

It is disgraceful that most theatre companies and well-known after-school events allow to teach children excluding others. It shows that even we are living in the modern world, we are failing behind on equality and fairness for all children and young people. We are also letting down future generations by not doing anything to resolve these situations.

In my opinion, teachers should, like my peers did in the Development lesson, alternate the games and make them different in order to make them inclusive. For example, they could have three splatters in a game of “Splat”. Also, instead of making people sit down they are splat, the leader could allow the children to be splatters themselves. In one way, it is better because everyone is included and it’ll help to strengthen the children’s team work skills. Hopefully, in time, a movement like this will happen everywhere and people will come to realise how excluding we had become and it’ll be possible to change all of this.

Do You Believe?

Do you believe in fairies?

Do you believe in the magic?

Do you believe in true love?

Do you believe in God, who lives up above?

Do you believe in riches?

Do you believe in societies?

Do you believe in money?

Or do you believe in classes?

Do you believe in creativity?

Do you believe in innocence?

Do you believe in fairy tales?

Do you believe in adventure?

Do you believe in the truth?

Or do you believe in the lies?

Do you believe everyone has a soul

Or do you believe in anything any more?

© 2015

Dream Adventures and Expeditions

Like any young person, I dream to travel the world, learn about new cultures and make new friends. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been (in my spare time) researching the Internet, reading books, writing bucket lists and random stuff about travelling.

However, I feel my Autism and Drama studies are in the way. It’s really hard because I have to concrete on my work, as I’m working full time and I don’t have the proper social skills to be prepared; my Mum says I can’t travel independently since I’m not good on buses, trains or taxis if I am on my own. But, I can walk to the local shops near where I live and near Drama school; sometimes I can, but not too far. If I do, I have to walk with a group of friends or my learning motor. It’s frustrating because I see my friends travelling all by themselves, while I’m stuck having public transport or my parents taking me places. I’m learning how to drive at the moment, but will it give me independence? It makes sad as well because I hear my friends making plans to travel aboard in groups and there’s me; the “boring girl” who either stays at home or goes on holiday with family every Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays.

A lot of people think I’m normal and don’t guess that I’m Autistic, unless I tell them or my parents tell them (*EMBARRASSING MOMENT*). It makes me feel comfortable because I know I may be accepted into a group of friends, instead of them thinking I’m some kind of loser who is Autistic and she can’t do anything.

I’m not giving up though; I try and convince my parents to help me travel on public transport on my own or with a group of people. But, I either forget, busy or my parents say “No”. In the meantime, I will keep planning and planning.

As well as world travelling, I’ve been in an expedition, partially scientific. Science isn’t my strongest subject; I like Biology, but I’m more into it than Chemistry and Physics. I like to look at animals, plants, collect samples and do something special like plant a tree. The last time I did something like this was five years ago when I was in Sixth Form (or Senior’s for US followers) when I planted about three trees with a couple of students in a new woodland area, near my old school. I haven’t done anything since.

I want to go in the summer, but I’ve booked a holiday to the OneWorld Festival so I may have to wait next year or a few years. Next year, I graduate Drama school but I have a choice; I can either study an extra year, receiving a BA Degree or I can go off into the big wide world. So, I guess it’ll have to wait for a while.

As many of you guys know, my dream holiday for travelling is Africa but I would really love to travel other places too. So, I have made a list of the places I want to go and what I want to do there:

  • Whale and Dolphin Spotting in California, USA: Whale and Dolphin spotting along the broad beaches in Southern California will be amazing to do. Not only, I would get a chance to see them, I would help researchers into why the whales are being threatened over dangers such as pollution and heavy shipping traffic.
  • Archaeological Dig in Peru: I’ve always wanted to go on an archaeological dig in Peru; however according to my research, there’s an expedition in Huyro, Lucumayo Valley where there is an opportunity to investigate and map out the ancient road network, while working alongside Peruvian archaeologists. Sounds like fun, expect I may have to travel between April and October because between November and February, it’ll be the rainy season. I can live with that, I guess.
  • Teaching Drama to Children in Romania: Performing at Drama school myself, I have always wanted to give back, in return to what my teachers had taught me. And what better way to do that than teaching a Drama class in Romania! Volunteers would be able to lead workshops, coach drama groups and help students to prepare local performance productions in Brasov. However, there’s a slight problem; I’m not a leader (at the moment) and I’m not brilliant at leading groups. But, that might change – it depends if I’m confident enough or not.
  • Work on a Conversation Project in Kenya’s African Savannah: My first African dream trip – the project is in the Kigio Wildlife Reserve. There’ll be opportunities to do some wildlife research, including doing mircro-ecology (studying the gut or stomach) of the Rothschild’s Giraffe. Not sure about this one because I’m not into blood and guts.
  • Volunteer as a Journalist in Cape Town: Sounds an interesting project to take on; if it was to happen, I would be able to work with other volunteers, with a magazine company called the Cape Chameleon. I would also work on another magazine, which is an online global journal called the Voices of the World, which encourages 16 to 25 year olds to express ideas and exchange stories. The only query I have to this is that do I need have a qualification or an interest in Journalism? I have published a few stuff in my school magazine, plus my blog but is that going to be enough?
  • Going on a Riverboat Exploration in the Amazon: In the Amazonian rainforests (in North Eastern Peru), there’ll be a change to help and seeking endangered wildlife, including macaws, primates, otters and bats. However, I HATE piranhas, which is one of the animals that volunteers should be working with. ARGH!
  • What is happening to the Chimpanzee’s in Uganda? Let’s Investigate: That’ll be something I want to solve. This is my last Africa dream trip destination for now. I’ve been fascinated by Chimps for a few years now and like all animals, I believe that saving them from extinction is vitally important. These chimps are living in the rainforests of Uganda and we get to support both chimps and farmers, so they can work together for the chimps to live in peace.

And finally:

  • Australia’s Kola Country: Like working with the chimps in Uganda, volunteers get to work on why climate change is causing change in their natural habit. This project is set in the Great Otway National Park in Victoria.

Well, these are my dream expeditions; hopefully I’ll get to do them but in the meantime, I’ll wait and see. And plan; plan a lot.

So what do you guys think? What is your favourite holiday destination or expedition? Please let me know in the comments section below; I would love to hear from you guys. 🙂