Inclusive Youth Dance Classes
A story by Indepen-dance
We provided inclusive dance sessions for 2 x 1 hour one evening per week for up to 25 children with learning disabilities, to give them the opportunity to experience a dance activity suited to their needs while their parents have a short break from their caring role.
What Inclusive Youth Dance Classes did
During the time between writing the application and receiving the grant we had a change of staff at Indepen-dance, our National Dance Worker left her post and it took longer than we expected to recruit another a suitable candidate. The result of this change in personnel had an impact on the start proposed planned project, this was detailed in our interim report.
Our previous National Dance Worker had built up a relationship and agreement with Laura McKenzie the local ASN Active Schools Co-ordinator for North Lanarkshire Council and to complicate matters Laura also left her post. The result of both key people leaving their posts meant the project started much later than anticipated, the project should have started in April due to the changes in personnel the project start was delayed until November 2015.
In order to finish the project within the funding year we added an additional 1 hour class which meant we delivered 2 x 1 hour classes one in Airdrie and one in Wishaw for young children with learning disabilities. We have delivered a total of 43 classes between November 2015 and May 2016. In order to promote the classes we included information about the class on our Website and Facebook page. We contacted local Additional Support Needs Schools to promote the weekly class. Our National Development Worker contacted groups we had already worked with in the past in North Lanarkshire and contacted Parents Support Groups at Partners in Play North Lanarkshire. Our National Development Worker also contacted North Lanarkshire Social services to share information on the weekly inclusive dance class.
The weekly inclusive youth dance classes were delivered by an inclusive teaching team which included a freelance member of staff who facilitated the workshops accompanied by a disabled member of staff from Indepen-dance. The project did not involve any volunteers. The weekly sessions were held each Tuesday in the Newarthill Community Facility Airdrie 3.30 - 4.30pm and the Pather Community Centre Wishaw 5.30 – 6.30pm Each class lasted the duration of one hour and enabled parents of the young disabled children to have an hours break from the caring role.
Parents/carers did a variety of activities during the hour break from going shopping, going for a coffee, having free time to read a book, magazine and surf the internet outside the session, some parents went home and put there feet up and others sat in their car listening to the radio. Out of both the sessions a couple of parents asked to take part in the session as they really enjoyed witnessing the enjoyment and interaction their son/daughter achieved during the session and one family involved other siblings of the disabled child participating.
We know from feedback from parents and carers that they’re wasn’t a similar activity in their region and by providing this weekly inclusive dance class local disabled children had access to a service which was great fun and has other benefits to the young disabled children such as building confidence, improved self esteem and health related fitness.
Helen’s mum cares for her on her own, Helen has 2 other siblings but they are older and are both living away from the family home. Helen’s mum has a sister who lives on an island off the West Coast of Scotland therefore family support is extremely limited. The weekly inclusive dance class is the ONLY time Helen’s mum get to herself, she made it very clear that this is a great value to her and enables her to enjoy a small window of time outside the role of carer for her daughter.
Emma who has been regularly attending the inclusive dance classes and used to go to mainstream dance classes with her sister, the style of dance class meant Emma wasn’t able to take part as it was not suited to her needs, she’d sit at the back of the class enjoying the music and watching the other children dance.
Now Emma has her own dance class to come to and her sister goes with her to share in an dance activity that is fully accessible for disabled and non disabled children, Emma’s mum loves to watch her daughter who is non verbal use dance as a way to share a creative experience with her siblings as well as others in the class.
What Indepen-dance has learnedWith the support of the Better Breaks Fund we have been able to extend our service outside Glasgow, reaching to a wider audience and providing a dance activity to young disabled people from North Lanarkshire. Despite efforts from our new National Dance Worker, North Lanarkshire personnel would not compromise on supporting us with reduced costs for the venue hire, this was extremely disappointing but perhaps this is a reflection on financial demands on local councils.
The changes in key personnel both within our own organisation and our contact within North Lanarkshire Council resulted in a slightly lower attendance than first anticipated. This was unforeseeable at the time of writing the application and we did do the best we could within our limitations to make the project valuable to all involved.