What happened when the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games came to Ward End

With the end of the Commonwealth Games 2022, the neighbourhood festivals also came to a close, and the last day was an emotional one for its creator.

The Commonwealth Games 2022 Neighbourhood festival arrived in Ward End Park amid some scorching summer weather - and it was a real community celebration.

Music, food, play, and sports, and a lot more were among the activities held across two days (finishing on Monday, August 8). A lot of thought, love, and planning went into the festivals and Opus Arts’ Diandra McCalla was the woman behind it.

It’s difficult to imagine that the end of a festival could bring someone to tears, but for lead producer of the neighbourhood festivals it was an emotional day. One of the first things Diandra told BirminghamWorld was she’s cried a lot already. The success of the festivals and the experience will remain with her for the rest of her life, she said.

She and her team went above and beyond what they had set out to do, she said. Whether it’s Castle Vale, Sparkhill, Edgbaston, or the other sites, each neighbourhood spot had something different to offer to the people.

Giant athletes pose in their cricket attire

They listened to the community about what they would like to hear, watch, and engage with in order to offer them a variety of activities like cricket, judo, football, hockey, arts and crafts, music workshops, and more.

Friction Arts’s Michael Mihoc had an enduring exhibition through all the sites. His team spoke to people about how they have been during the pandemic and the lockdowns, and put the conversation on paper in a creative way. They sketched the people talking while they were busy expressing about their experiences. Michael said at Ward End they have gathered almost hundreds of such sketches now and hope to exhibit at some point.

Michael Mihoc, Friction Arts

Sajida Asif conducted a textile workshop at multiple sites and engaged with the children and women while teaching them arts and crafts. She is an artist who has exhibited her work multiple times and conducts workshops in communities like Sparkhill, Handsworth, and more recently, Ward End. She is also a primary school teacher and conducts workshops for children and women.

Musician Jobe Sullivan, who conducted a percussion workshop, said adults and children alike took part in the activity with many adults wanting to receive training from him after the end of the festival as well.

Groups of women and little girls sat on picnic blankets relaxing in the warm weather enjoying each other’s company. Friends and families hung out together at the sprawling park in a neighbourhood that might not get events like this often.

What made all the community festivals special is that Diandra is a Brummie and earnestly wanted to bring entertainment, leisure, and playful activities to the communities, which don’t always have the access.

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