This week is Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week and people across the country are celebrating all the different ways people with Down’s Syndrome are connecting with each other. Today also marks one year since DanceSyndrome took the difficult decision to close our doors due to the risk created by Coronavirus on 17th March 2020. At that time we only expected to be closed for a few weeks and return in April. Of course, that didn’t happen and none of us could have expected what followed over the next 12 months and how we would have to find completely new ways of connecting. One of the most unexpected things to have happened in the last year was the way that our small charity from Lancashire, England, adapted to become an international provider of online dance activity. In this special Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week blog we will look at some of the amazing things our dancers with and without disabilities have achieved together over the course of one of the most challenging years in our 12 year history.
This is our impact for the last 12 months, it’s very different than in previous years when we have been in face to face workshops and performing on stages around the UK, but we are still incredibly proud of what we have achieved this year and the amazing feedback we have been given about how we have adapted and how we have provided a lifeline to people in hard times.
Once the decision was taken to close our weekly sessions in March, our team immediately started working on ways to maintain the vital connections that we have with our dancers. Our Dance Leaders (many of whom are people with learning disabilities) drive everything that we do and they told us they wanted to keep dancing and, as always, we were led by them.
Dance Leader Becky Rich got the ball rolling with a routine people could practice at home:
We started off by offering daily YouTube sessions and we are still offering a weekly YouTube session one year on:
In April 2020 we started offering one Zoom session per week. We now have 16 weekly sessions with participants joining us from as far as China, South Africa, Europe and the USA! (Click here to sign up for the latest sessions!)
We then introduced an infant session led by Max, our youngest Dance Leader who was just 3 years old at the time! Max’s session is still running now, every Saturday at 10:45am. Find out more here.
Infant Dance is on Saturday at 10:45am to make it easy for busy parents. 4 year old Max takes the lead, choosing his favourite songs & showing his moves. Your infants can copy or do their own thing & #dance together in a relaxed way. FREE sign up: https://t.co/NacXWaJ0ZO pic.twitter.com/phvbKyEtog
— DanceSyndrome (@DanceSyndrome) February 12, 2021
Our team have stayed in regular contact with each other outside of their dance sessions and have inspired each other with photos and videos of what they have been doing, in much the same way they would face-to-face before the pandemic! Here are just a few of their fab pics and videos:
As well as inspiring and celebrating each other, they have still been working on dance projects from home to inspire and celebrate others. Everyone on the team was thrilled to be invited to celebrate our keyworkers with this great video for the #MakeitBlue campaign
We have also tried to continue to offer performance opportunites as much as possible. Our Contemporary, Street, Ballet, Rave and Musical Jazz groups have created video performances every six weeks. They have performed live to Zoom audiences too with Rave with Bex and Dave live performances and a range of Christmas performance events with partners and our own Christmas Showcase. Here is a great playlist of their performance pieces:
We are doing our best to provide a variety of dance activities and projects to give our dancers plenty of choice about how they spend their time in lockdown in the hope that this will make this difficult time easier for them. Being involved in our activities is giving individuals and their families a focus, structure to each week, taking the pressure off finding new things to do and most of all improving the ongoing, general, health and wellbeing of participants thank to having enjoyable activities to do and, most of all, staying connected with their friends. The feedback from our participants has been lovely to hear.
Dancing during the lockdown has become more of a lifeline than ever to the hundreds of adults with learning disabilities who join in every week. Please help us to keep everyone dancing, your donation will ensure that the people we support can stay connected, stay involved and stay well.
We hope our dancers have inspired you to see the positive side of life in lockdown! If you want to support us to continue to provide these life changing opportunities, there are lots of ways you can do that.
Join us in a session! The full list of upcoming sessions can be found on our Events page.
You can volunteer your time if you have skills that can help us or make a donation to support us.
You can donate or fundraise using the following methods:
By Post – You can send a cheque made payable to DanceSyndrome to:
DanceSyndrome, C/O Pathways Associates,
Suite 2, Waterside, St James Court West, Accrington, Lancashire, BB5 1NA
Just Giving – you can make a donation or fundraise for DanceSyndrome at: www.justgiving.com/dance-syndrome
Facebook – you can make a donation or set up a fundraiser via Facebook – www.facebook.com/dancerleddisabilityinspired
Text message donation – to donate text DANCE to one of the following numbers:
£1 – text DANCE to 70201
£3 – text DANCE to 70331
£5 – text DANCE to 70970
£10 – text DANCE to 70191
£20 – text DANCE20 to 70191
Paypal – you can make a donation via Paypal.
Online – donate directly using the form below.