My name is Jo Jackson and we are now offering our sessions live and online, Mondays to Fridays. To cut a long story short, I have had an amazing parent who has volunteered a tremendous amount of time to enable us to set up a website and deliver our sessions through 'zoom'. He has been absolutely amazing and continues supporting us. We are a small charity and without him we would not have been able to do this and have such a professional website and could not have provided these sessions as we are doing. The website even has a link where you can let us know when it is your child's birthday - write a message - this then goes to my emails and Postman Pat reads the letter out whilst we are live.
We normally aim our sessions at birth to five years but we know lots of our boys and girls who have moved on to school and still love a good hokey kokey, have returned to join in with us. We also know how much parents and grandparents and great-grandparents love our sessions. In addition, in families with more than one child, it is great for siblings to have something that appeals to them all and a session they can all learn from and join in together or watch and help their baby brother or sister sing and dance. Equally, if parents have their first baby, or just one child at home, they too can benefit and join in with the singing. We also have some very techno gran's these days who are able to download the zoom app and join in and watch the other children dancing on their screens too.
I was desperate to try and keep our sessions running. I know I am struggling to process everything that is happening on a daily basis so it is even harder for little ones to understand and actually adults too. None of us have ever experienced anything like this and may struggle with it as adults.
Our sessions aim to provide continuity and to enable all our little singers and parents to carry on with the routine of our normal daily lives and familiarity too, seeing Singing Jo in action as normal. It is vital to continue with routine in a child's life and for adults too, in order to help to avoid any anxiety. Being at home for such an extended time can lead to a feeling of social isolation and therefore being able to continue our sessions in a familiar format can be a great comfort and act as a distraction for everybody and our children continue with their early years learning. We can still wish them a happy birthday and very soon, I hope to be able to master 'muting' people in and out. We are going to try a mass hokey kokey later this week and 'unmute' everybody.
I know from the smiles and laughter I see briefly on the screen how much the little ones and parents are still enjoying our sessions. Initially, we could have up to 100 per session, but it went a bit crazy on the first day and 700 people tried to join our session. Jane Cowley and Manx Miracles have donated £250 and this has enabled us to upgrade our zoom sessions to 1000 per session so that none of our locals miss out and new people can join too.
The role of the arts at this time is vital. There is a lot of heartache and uncertainty around us all at the moment with no definitive answers of when it is going to end, so any form of escapism can help to create a great coping mechanism - in our case singing. Very quickly and easily lots of feel-good chemicals are released in our brains to bring an instant feeling of happiness and warmth. These chemicals are known to help with feelings of anxiety and stress and that is why I am singing as much as I can! It doesn't matter what you sing! For my singing community, nothing beats a good hokey kokey, which keeps you active and releases happy hormones! A 45 minute session with Singing Jo & Co not only provides valuable learning for the little ones, but keeps us all fit and makes us laugh.
My one tip is to play a variety of music which will create a variety of different feel-good moods - music to make you laugh, gentle relaxing music and this in turn can lead to creating a positive mindset to lead you into other creative activities.
Leader/Head of Charity
Singing Jo & Co
IOM Registered Charity No 1250