Dancers from DanceSyndrome are excited to be reopening the regular face to face inclusive dance session in Chorley, after closing two years ago because of the pandemic.
The Chorley session, at St George’s Church Hall on Halliwell Street, will restart on Tuesday 8th March at 1pm with a special free session to celebrate International Women’s Day. The session is open to everybody, regardless of age, ability or gender and will be co-led by two of DanceSyndrome’s inspirational female leaders, Jen Blackwell and Donna Wheeldon.
Donna is a Dance Artist with DanceSyndrome but also works as Jen’s lead carer. She recalls how meeting Jen and working with her has changed her life.
“I was practising a routine in my dance studio when a very quiet, shy but poised looking young lady walked through the door with her mum. Little did I know that this beautiful lady would change my life forever. That was back in 2011 and 11 years down the line, how life has changed! I’m now Jen’s lead carer, though I’d rather call it best buddy, as well as Dance Artist for DanceSyndrome and I’ve been privileged to perform across the country, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival twice, with the most amazing bunch of dancers whom I now call my dancing family.”
Jen Blackwell, from Chorley, is becoming increasingly recognised as a local entrepreneur and her list of achievements grows year on year. She was included for three consecutive years (2018-2020) in the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100, a list of influential leaders within the disability sector in the UK, as well as received a Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister in 2018 in recognition of her work in the community and was also recognised by The Independent in their 2019 Lucozade Movers List of influential people in sport. Most recently, Jen won the Inclusion Award at the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA) Awards in 2021 and was included on F: Entrepreneur list of top 100 female entrepreneurs for 2022. DanceSyndrome as a charity has been awarded many charity and dance industry awards, including the Queens Award for Voluntary Services, which is the voluntary group equivalent of an MBE.
Talking about her achievements, Jen said “Dancing is my life, I am passionate about dance and about supporting people like me to have opportunities in the dance world. Winning these awards shows that people with learning disabilities can do amazing things with their lives if given a chance.”
Donna is full of admiration. “As both her lead carer and her dance instructor I recognise the irony that every lesson I take with her turns out to be a lesson for myself. Not only through dance but also from my greater appreciation of disability inclusion issues. Being part of Jen’s life and DanceSyndrome has shown me how to achieve the very best, not just through technique but from the passion within.
Talking about the Chorley session re-opening, Jen said “‘I’m so happy to be starting up the Chorley workshop again. It’s been far too long.”
Donna said “I’m very excited to be back after all this time. I can’t wait to see all the old and new participants. We’ll have so much fun again. We do understand, though, that not everyone is ready to get back to their pre-pandemic activities, especially if they are vulnerable, so we are continuing with our full programme of Zoom activities too.”
If you would like to join DanceSyndrome in Chorley, you can find just turn up on the day. All the information and the booking form for future dates is below. Additionally, DanceSyndrome also run face to face inclusive Everybody Dance sessions in Preston on a Wednesday and in Clitheroe on a Saturday and online via Zoom. Visit our Events page for more information.