Learning Disabilities & Autism News

Inclusive Arts charity launches ground-breaking video project

DanceSyndrome Group

A small Lancashire-based charity with a mission to change the way that people think about learning disabilities has launched a ground-breaking project in partnership with NHS England.

DanceSyndrome has created a series of six informational videos which demonstrate the many ways that people with learning disabilities can live fulfilled lives, contributing to society and becoming visible leaders, performers, and advocates. The project has been supported by the national nursing directorate at NHS England and the videos will be shared with healthcare professionals, including Midwives and Learning Disability Nurses, to give them new insight into their work with individuals with learning disabilities and their families.

DanceSyndrome is a multi-award-winning dance charity that was founded by Jen Blackwell, who happens to have Down’s syndrome. The charity was founded because Jen found it difficult to find opportunities to train and work in dance because of her learning disability. With the help of her parents, the charity was set up to support people with and without disabilities to work together to follow their dreams in dance.

Since 2009, DanceSyndrome’s Dance Leader team has grown to become a group of individuals with a range of disabilities including Down’s syndrome, quadriplegia cerebral palsy, non-verbal communication, speech impairments and mental health conditions. Every member of the team is an inspiring leader in their own right, and they have all completed DanceSyndrome’s unique Dance By Example leadership training. This qualifies them to co-lead inclusive dance workshops; each Dancer Leader works in partnership with a professional  Dance Artist to provide high quality inclusive dance sessions for people with and without disabilities to enjoy together. They are all visible members of their communities, who can regularly be seen leading workshops, dance performances and community activities.

The videos in this new project combine information about how individuals with learning disabilities contribute to the services that DanceSyndrome offers with evidence of the health and wellbeing benefits of dancing, as well as the benefits that come from people being included, empowered, respected, connected and enabled to be creative.

The pioneering project presents inspiring case studies of people with learning disabilities who are pursuing careers in dance, as well as demonstrations of dance which are co-led by people with learning disabilities in line with DanceSyndrome’s unique co-delivery model which puts people with learning disabilities in visible leadership roles.

DanceSyndrome Managing Director Julie Nicholson said “This has been such an important project for DanceSyndrome. One of the most important parts of our mission is to change the way that people think about disability and what people are able to achieve with the right support.

“The videos talk about how there is beauty and significance in all movement and the importance of adaptations in making activities truly inclusive and accessible. They show why inclusive activities are important for people with and without disabilities to make connections, build friendships and learn transferrable skills which can be used in all aspects of life. The aim is to help people to discover the power of creativity and why it is important to see people with and without disabilities collaborating to choreograph and perform high quality dance pieces in an inclusive, supportive way.

“DanceSyndrome has always aspired to extend our inclusive practices and impact beyond the dance world and into society in general and we strongly feel that this project will pave the way to a more inclusive future for everyone.”

The videos can be viewed at https://learningdisabilitynurse.co.uk/dancesyndrome

To find out more about DanceSyndrome and their inspirational work, please visit www.dancesyndrome.co.uk

Edel Harris

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