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Sam Loves Horniman

Sam and his family are regular visitors to the Horniman. His mum Jess has written a piece for us explaining why Sam especially loves our storytelling sessions and what keeps them coming back.

My son Sam loves visiting the Horniman. Sam is almost five years old, enjoys stories and is bright. He is also physically disabled, uses a wheelchair and is unable to talk.

It is often hard to find places of interest to Sam, and then to access them with him. It can sometimes be difficult to physically get in to the building or to get Sam close to an exhibit that is high up. For a child who struggles to use his hands, some interactive exhibits can be frustrating and boring.

The Horniman is a rare exception. We discovered 'A World of Stories' events at the museum when Sam was two and have been going regularly ever since. Each Sunday, a storyteller chooses an item from the museum's collection and uses it as the basis for a story. They are often folktales involving animals and distant lands: 'How the lion got his roar' and other exciting adventures.

  • A World of Stories session at the Horniman, Photo by Megan Taylor
    , Photo by Megan Taylor

Children sit on the floor to gather around the storyteller, meaning that Sam can see from his wheelchair. What he really enjoys in a story is lots of drama and a lively telling, and the tales here never disappoint. While Sam is unable to talk, his chuckles make obvious his enjoyment. Some children lose concentration but Sam is totally focused and is often the child laughing loudest and longest.

The only low point is at the end of the session, when Sam often feels sad at the end of the stories. Fortunately, there are lots of other things he finds interesting at the museum, and the whole building is easily navigable with a wheelchair.

He finds the aquarium fascinating and loves to get up close to the insects and fish, which are low enough for him to see from his chair.

  • Our Aquarium tanks are designed so that they can be viewed even at low levels, Photo by Laura Mtungwazi
    , Photo by Laura Mtungwazi

He can also use some of the hands-on instruments in the music room and is also able to play the outdoor instruments with a bit of help.

Sam's brother Eli is two and struggles to sit still for but of course there's plenty for him too at the Horniman - particularly stuffed monkeys (his favourite animal) and live crabs.

Read more about Sam's life at Jessica's website, storieswithsam.com.