Jen Blackwell, Founder of charity, DanceSyndrome, has been named as one of the UK’s most inspirational and dynamic female entrepreneurs in the f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 campaign.
Jen, who has Down’s syndrome, went to mainstream school and her dream was to go on to be a community dance leader providing inclusive dance for everyone. Jen and her Mum spent 10 years searching for the right dance opportunities that would allow her to be a leader and performer. After all that time, they couldn’t find anything that was accessible for Jen, so they started up their own organisation – DanceSyndrome in 2009.
Fast-forward to 2022 and Jen’s charity is rapidly growing and she is being profiled alongside 100 female entrepreneurs from across the UK, as part of the ‘#ialso100’ campaign to celebrate the achievements of women running businesses in the UK today.
Delivered by Small Business Britain – the leading champion of small businesses in the UK – f:Entrepreneur was launched in 2017 to showcase trailblazing female founders who lead businesses alongside other responsibilities, such as volunteering, mentoring and community support. Many of the businesses featured in this year’s campaign also demonstrate a huge commitment to the environment by championing sustainability. From quantum computer engineers, and vegan fruit farmers, to sustainability advocates and inclusive fashion designers, this year’s campaign celebrates inspiring and resilient female entrepreneurs that have flourished despite the challenges of the past years, with many still growing or starting new ventures.
Facing challenges is nothing new to Jen but she hasn’t let learning disability get in her way; she always has a positive attitude and determination to succeed. She has always wanted to lead, choreograph and perform and her goal is to “get the world dancing!” She absolutely does that through DanceSyndrome, a charity that is co-led by people with learning disabilities working alongside professional Dance Artists to offer inclusive dance workshops, dance leadership training and inspiring performances. Jen thrives in the spotlight and thoroughly enjoys the fun and the smiles and laughter that flow freely in her dance sessions. The inspiring impact Jen and her fellow Dance Leaders have in these sessions has been widely recognised, most notable with a Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award in 2018 and the Queens Award for Voluntary Service 2019, the voluntary organisation equivalent of an MBE. Jen has been featured on prime-time TV by the National Lottery and been invited to events at Buckingham Palace and The House of Lords, amongst many other achievements!
On being featured in the #ialso100 lineup, Jen said: “I am just so honoured to be recognized and part of this amazing community. I am the co-founder of my very own charity the dancing family DanceSyndrome because I didn’t have a life in dance, and now I do! It’s a dream come true. For me and my fellow dancers I give them their lives in dance, and they give me mine. My disability doesn’t define me for who I am. Dance gives me a voice to be heard. I love performing and getting everyone dancing but I couldn’t do it without the support of my mum and dad. They are my rock! My dream is for my dance team to perform at a Manchester City football match at the Etihad Stadium!”
Both f:Entrepreneur and Small Business Britain were founded by Michelle Ovens CBE, who is also the director of Small Business Saturday UK.
“Congratulations to Jen from DanceSyndrome, and all of the brilliant female entrepreneurs featured in this year’s #ialso100,” said Michelle Ovens.
“It is so vital that we recognize and celebrate the phenomenal contribution that women running businesses are making across the UK, and the far-reaching, positive impact they are having, not just on the economy, but on wider communities too. The last few years have been hugely challenging for small businesses, yet despite this female entrepreneurship continues to grow and flourish in the UK, and is very much at the heart of the UK’s recovery.”
To see the full line-up of the 100 amazing women featured in this year’s f:entrepreneur #ialso100 campaign visit https://f-entrepreneur.com/ialso-100-2022/