Last Summer a group of wonderful and powerful women started a 6 month project called Power Bodies. The women are part of a group at the Powerhouse, a small women’s chairty in Newham. The Powerhouse aims to empower women with learning difficulties to realise their voice, and promotes social inclusion, independence and life skills.
Power Bodies is an essential project, addressing the health needs of the women who are often discriminated against due to disability, gender, sexuality and race. This constant discrimination has a big impact on their self-confidence and self-belief.
This project, funded by Rosa, brought colour and fun into the Powerhouse. During art sessions, members painted women from all over the world and talked about the fact that everyone has a different idea of beauty.
Theresa, a Power Bodies participant said:
the Powerhouse knows that women often don’t like the way they look and aren’t happy. In one session the staff here wouldn’t let us leave without being proud of three things about our bodies – we realised that we have lots to be proud of.
Power Bodies members also visitied leisure centres, smoothie bars, the theatre and the Wellcome Trust Museum to see an exhibtion about the Human Body.
Deborah, a long-term member of the Powerhouse said
PowerBodies is about women from all places, getting along and loving themselves
As well as the educational aspect, the project supported Powerhouse members, helping them to become stronger advocates, speaking out about rights of women with learning difficulties at Community Health Meetings and in hospitals.
Members identified issues that affect their lives saying that they live in a world without suitable communication systems for people with learning difficulties. This means they cannot access information, and do not feel empowered to make choices and decisions.
Power Bodies was initially planned as a six month project, but has proved so popular with members that it has continued. Lisa, a member who attends sessions twice a week noticed that
Power Bodies teaches you to like yourself, and feel good. I think women with Learning Difficulties like their bodies, I do not compare myself to magazines!
This was re-iterated by her friend Deborah, who commented that
people are too worried about what they look like. I am happy to be who I am!
If you would like more information or would like to get involved please call the Powerhouse on 0207 366 6336. We are currently open on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Ffion Evans, Project Manager