Gwynedd’s Enfys is a Christmas star

A six year old girl from Gwynedd will be starring in the ground-breaking TV series she inspired on Christmas Eve.

The idea for Dwylo’r Enfys (Rainbow Hands) on S4C’s Cyw came from mum-of-two Ruth Thomas, from Bontnewydd, near Caernarfon, whose daughter Enfys has Down’s Syndrome.

The series made by award-winning producer Nia Ceidiog is introducing a signing system called Makaton to small children in Welsh for the first time.

Makaton is a language programme that uses speech, signs and symbols to encourage communication. The system is used by more than 100,000 children and adults.

During the series, Dwylo’r Enfys (Rainbow Hands) visits children with special needs across Wales.

Each week, Cawod and Heulwen, two lively and colourful characters leave their home at the End of the Rainbow to meet the children and introduce three new Makaton signs.

The part of Heulwen is played by Ceri Bostock,from Caernarfon and Cawod is played by Iago McGuire from Anglesey

Enfys will be starring in a festive special being screened at 8.30am on Christmas Eve.

Ruth, who works part time for Gwynedd Social Services, said: “We had Makaton when Enfys was a baby but everything was in English.

“Because she attends a Welsh-medium school (Ysgol Bontnewydd) it meant as she was getting older she was having to translate everything which was something she could do without.

“Dwylo’r Enfys is a very special programme and it’s a programme for every one – not just for special children but also their friends, families and people at their schools.

“Makaton has changed our lives and I hope that Dwylo’r Enfys will do the same for other Welsh families.”

Nia, who also wrote the original versions of Fireman Sam in English and Welsh, said: “Dwylo’r Enfys is a very important project.

“This is the first time that children with special needs have been given such a stage on S4C.

“The programme shows Wales and all its diversity. It is refreshing and historical.

“I have been making television programmes for little children for a long time. This year I was asked to refresh Something Special  for Cbeebies.

“My experience with Mr Tumble and Makaton on Something Special was invaluable when I was developing Dwylo’r Enfys.

“The programme has been quite a quick turn-around and very enjoyable to do.

“We hit the screen on December 3 and the response from the audience and their families has already been very warm.

“One child is featured on each show with our presenters; they come down from the rainbow and take part in activities and adventures, using the Makaton signing system to communicate. All the youngsters have learning disabilities of some kind or other caused by various factors.

“Enfys is the star of our Christmas Eve show. A little boy called Owen from Cardiff loves music and he went to visit the Welsh language music service.

“Another little girl loves swimming and she went swimming with our presenters. We have a little boy who loves dressing up and shopping, so he makes his own shop and dresses as a baker.

“The children are very individual and we feature them in the context of their families and their lives. We’ve made 13 programmes, five to be shown before the end of the year.

“The presenters are both practitioners of the Makaton system of communication and we have a Makaton tutor on set and work alongside the Makaton charity.

“One of the reasons we did the programmes was to reflect Wales in all its diversity and the Welsh language. In Wales up to now children with learning disabilities have not been seen to this extent on S4C in a Welsh language context.”

Ruth says Enfys comes “down to earth” with the superheroes and goes in search for a present for her best friend Alaw.

“We were keen to promote social inclusion so we had a choir in this Christmas  programme featuring children from Bontnewydd and Ysgol Pendalar, so that Enfys and Alaw are singing
with a choir of about 30 children.

“Enfys is a real little character and she enjoyed watching some of the programmes but she has not seen her episode. I’m not sure she realises she was the inspiration for the series,” said Ruth, who also has a three-year-old son, Daniel.

Ruth is hoping there could be a second series of Dwylo’r Enfys, which now has its own Facebook page for viewers to leave comments.

She also hopes the Welsh medium Makaton will help more parents improve communication with their children.

“I want it to change the life of Welsh speaking children and their families because it’s so important. Imagine going to another country and not being able to communicate with someone. Often children are labelled with difficult behavioural problems when in fact they just cannot communicate,” said Ruth.

Nia added: “We are hoping its appeal will spread and that people presently not able to access resources and training will be able to do that.

“We are currently working on additional teaching resources to support Makaton training through the medium of Welsh, connected with the programme, and hopefully with support from the Welsh Government.”

Related Posts with Thumbnails