Published on: Tuesday, 8 August 2023
Last updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2023
A new colouring book is to be made available at railway stations for children to take with them on their journeys.
Created by acclaimed artist Matt Jones, the book particularly aims to help children with autism and anxiety and other conditions feel more relaxed when travelling.
Matt has teamed up with the Bittern Line and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnerships, train operator Greater Anglia, the Lowestoft Central Project and Norfolk & Waveney MIND charity to publish the ‘Bouncing Brains Happy Travels’ books which will be available free of charge at several railway stations and other outlets, following a launch event and family Colouring Day being held at Lowestoft station on August 12.
The event will include free colouring books, with pencils donated by Learn Play Nexus, and a live art workshop and will take place between 11am and 3pm on Saturday 12 August at Lowestoft railway station.
Over 10,000 colouring books have been produced which will be distributed to railway stations around the region over the coming weeks with hopes that more versions will be produced via the nationwide Community Rail movement.
Bouncing Brains was devised by Artist Matt Jones following a rail journey. Matt said, “I was invited by a friend to go to Colchester for a day out to help care for two people with Autism. We started off in the town, where we met a former carer. We chatted and I explained to him that I had some anxiety issues about travelling to big cities. He then told me that a big problem for people with anxiety and people who suffer with mental health conditions is they either don't travel well or don’t travel at all.
“This got me thinking, when I travel by train, I take my sketchbook and pens to keep me occupied and this works for me. Early one morning, I’d gone out for a ride on my bike, I often take a sketch book with me so when the idea came to me about a colouring book called Bouncing Brains, I quickly drew a sketch. On my way home I passed the Dragon Fly mental health children's unit near Lowestoft, popped in to say hi, and after a quick chat about the idea, I went home and used the computer to make a draft concept book.
“A chance meeting at Lowestoft railway station with the Community Rail Development Officer wherein I explained the concept of the colouring book led to a commission and funding and we now have some ten thousand copies to give away, support from the rail industry and we are holding a Giant Colouring Day at Lowestoft station to launch the initiative.
“The aim of the book is to help anyone, but the underlying focus is on children who have ADHD, Bipolar, Depression or suffer from Anxiety. If I can help anyone get onto a train and not have issues with anxiety through the medium of art using these colouring books, I will be very pleased.”
“I would like to think we can do a series of books, all related to travel and getting out and about. The first one features the Greater Anglia hare mascot with trains that look like giant pencils, sheep and even a fish finger on a bike as a nod to Lowestoft’s fishing industry, all in my unique style.”
Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said, “This is a great initiative which I am sure will be very popular during the summer holidays when many families choose to have a great day out by train. For many children taking the train is an adventure in itself and the book will add an extra layer of fun. For those that find travelling difficult, it aims to offer an opportunity for relaxation during the journey and I would like to thank everyone involved for turning this lovely idea into a reality.”
Martin Halliday Development Officer at Community Rail Norfolk said, “We are delighted to have supported Matt in this project and to have funded the printing of the superb Bouncing Brains Happy Travels colouring books.
“Making travel by rail as accessible as possible is very important to both the Bittern Line and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnerships and we are looking forward to the special launch event hosted by the Lowestoft Central Project at Lowestoft station on Aug 12.”