This term has seen M-Pulsive Dance School strike up a relationship with local charity 'Meeting of Minds' to run a set of classes for children with additional needs. Meeting of Minds is a local organisation run by parents who have children with additional/complex needs. They aim to provide a help and support to other families and their children with
additional needs as well as promoting a network to help families meet and connect with each other helping to breakdown what can be a very isolating experience.
Late last year committee members Louise and Lauren came in to chat about the possibilities of running a block of dance for their group. Without hesitation I agreed to and set about finding a potential time slot and planning the sessions.
Dance is an extremely valuable activity for children with additional and complex needs. It allows a space for children to explore movement in a safe environment and to help with body awareness. Being taught dance allows children to focus on different parts of their body and how they work in order to create the movement. In our sessions we looked at moving creatively around the dance space, breaking this down with break dance style balances which we progressed weekly to look at balancing on different body parts and creating various shapes. As well as working on spatial and body awareness this also allowed the group to experience creativity, introducing them to a whole new way to express themselves.
In the second half of each class we worked on some basic elements of street and hip hop dance, putting together a routine over the five week block. The movements involved in this section promote finer motor control and concentration on instruction. By working on this weekly, the group experienced a sense of great achievement when by week 5 we had completed a routine to the whole song. They were able to take home the sections of choreography each week to practice bringing something familiar back to the class each week.
So, why, it may be asked, are children with additional needs not included in our standard class timetable? Of course they are! All our classes are fully inclusive, however, some children experience sensory processing or physical difficulties which would make a busy, loud, high energy class too much for them to enjoy. It is important to highlight that the classes I have designed specifically for children with complex and additional needs are not to exclude children from our current timetable, they are simply to provide an alternative choice thus allowing more children to experience dance in an environment that they feel safe in and can fully enjoy. The class numbers are capped to eliminate the sense of overcrowding, the music is quieter and the lighting lower to create a calmer atmosphere and the class content is delivered at a pace set by the class themselves. At the end of our classes the sensory lighting used in the cool down was a big hit.
The classes have been really well received by the children and their parents and the improvement that I witnessed over the five classes was amazing. I'd love to have the chance to do this again and continue my mission to inspire more children to dance across the area. Thank you to Meeting of Minds for arranging this first block and keep your eyes peeled for more happening in the future...
You can find out more about Meeting of Minds here https://www.facebook.com/Meeting-of-Minds-1609824922672530/