EMD UK supports development of inclusive dance videos

Para Dance UK, a charitable organisation and the national governing body for Para Dance Sport in the UK, has been supported by EMD UK to develop free access to inclusive dance videos aimed at wheelchair users and the wider disability community.  The project aims were to develop and release four videos per week throughout January 2021, consisting of a selection of lyrical, non-genre and ballroom and Latin-inspired sessions for participants to enjoy at home.

The project was designed to minimise the impact of COVID-19 by offering an opportunity for wheelchair users and the wider disability community to learn something new, be more active and celebrate that everyone can dance, this was made possible by receiving funding of £4,000 from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund.  This amount was allocated from the £20m which had been assigned to the Tackling Inequalities Fund by the  National Lottery.

A survey commissioned by Sport England found that at the beginning of lockdown 32% of all adults were doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days per week.  Differences of activity levels were found among different demographic groups with September activity levels for those with a disability or long-term illness were 23% compared with 31% of people without.

It is hard to believe that Claire and Samantha have only been working together at Para Dance UK since last August when Sam joined the charity. They had just a few days to develop the project plan and lost no time in calling on teachers who could deliver the fun-filled sessions, while finding suitable premises in which to film. This was not without a few last-minute hitches as Claire Tracey, one of the leads on this project and Para Dance Sport & Activities Co-ordinator was ready to begin the filming.  Her new wheelchair was minus the Allen Key and she needed to adjust the footplate, but luckily a nearby MOT garage came to her rescue and provided a (slightly oily) replacement!

The videos have proved extremely popular, both with people who have never danced before or who have been enjoying dance for years.  The inclusive dance sessions are ‘suitable for everyone and provide a wonderful opportunity to have some fun whilst improving physical, mental and emotional wellbeing’.

Samantha Parry, who is managing the project, reports that so far there have been 89 sign ups for the video sessions, of which 77 are people new to Para Dance UK.  Of the 89, 36 are wheelchair users and 53 are non-wheelchair users from the wider disability community.  Even more satisfying, they received some feedback that one of the dancers enjoyed the videos so much they shared it with their carers, while another is exploring with Claire and Samantha how they can make dancing sustainable and are exploring ways in which to do this to potentially reach more isolated people.

You can still sign up for the videos here (until 27 January).  The team at Para Dance UK  hope you have fun dancing and would love to hear from you on how you are enjoying the sessions!