Dunstable memory walk: Foundation hopes to raise £12k to commemorate Marley’s life
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A foundation that supports children and young people is running its third annual memory walk.
Marley’s Aart Foundation will be hosting the memory walk on December 2, 2023. Jennifer Prescott founded Marley’s Aart Foundation in memory of her son Marley Asher Adeshino Prescott, who passed away in 2020.
The foundation, which started six months after his death, supports children and young people with social and anxiety disorders in accessing art therapy.
Jennifer first noticed Marley’s talent for drawing when he was between the ages of seven and eight. She said: “He would do a great imitation of the cartoon characters, especially the Disney ones. He was quite happy to be left alone when he was younger as he would get a blank paper and pencil and start to draw.
“By the time he started secondary school, he had already decided that he wanted to be an animator. He started a YouTube channel where he would upload some of the animations he created. All of these were self-taught as he did not have any formal training for animation.”Jennifer added: “One of the issues with getting formal training was because of his anxiety. Over time we noticed that he became withdrawn and he found it really hard to be in a social setting.
"Whilst before he was happy to meet with friends and family that gradually deteriorated and it became a big deal when family came over or when we had to go out socially.”
Jennifer said that Marley had found it really hard to express himself through talking therapies. She said: “I think art therapy would have been great for him if we had been aware of this at the time.”
The first walk began in December 2021, covering routes that Marley frequently went through – starting from his secondary school, walking through Dunstable town centre, onto Woodside, covering some of the paper round routes he did around Katherine Drive, and ending at his first school on Gorham Way.
The group exceeded the target of £5000, and raised £5585 on the first walk.
Just over 10k was raised during the 2022 memory walk. It went towards funding Art Therapy for individual and group therapy sessions at Queensbury Academy, and a Mental Health Awareness Workshop in May 2023 for young people and their parents with CHUMS.
The group began collaborating with CHUMS in September 2021, using Marley's Child Trust Fund to sponsor Art Therapy for a young boy who had been referred to the service.
In March of 2023, the group started funding art therapy in Queensbury Secondary School for a one-to-one individual therapy and one group of five to six.
Jennifer added: “I am really happy that we have hit our targets the past two years and it really motivates me to do more. It has helped me to channel my loss into making a difference even if it's for a small number of young people and I hope that it grows year on year.”
This year, the foundation is hoping to raise £12k. Visit the official JustGiving page to donate.