Thameside Wheelchair Dancing
Annual Report 2010
This year brought about changes in our set up. Firstly, most of the students we had worked with for four years left Kingsdown School for college or other occupations and the group class for people from homes and day centres had to be terminated for financial reasons. In order that all groups did not loose out on their newly acquired activity, we rearranged our program to provide a class for the older students on a Monday, another for new and younger students at ,Kingsdown on Thursdays and make monthly visits to a home and a Day Centre for the more handicapped people.
We started our year at Kingsdown School with a new group of much younger children, most of whom have learning as well as physical difficulties. It was doubtful, whether or not they could achieve sufficient experience for the annual event at Cuijk at Easter but we hoped to we could make headways with a team dance for the forth coming UK National event later in the year.
Saw the start of our monthly visits to Timber Grove Rayleigh and Avro Day Centre in Southend. At Timber grove we provide a wheelchair dance activity for residents and day visitors and at Avro we provide a line dance activity for a large class of day visitors with physical and learning difficulties. The standard of dancing is not good but the enjoyment and satisfaction, just cannot be measured.
At the end of March we made we made the first of several visits to the Dagenham area. The first was to an able bodied junior school holding a Disability Awareness Day. We demonstrated the use of wheelchairs and then gave the children and teachers the opportunity to operate and dance in the chairs. It was so successful we had trouble in retrieving the chairs to go home. The school made a collection and donation to the Thameside fund. We also attended the Southend Connexions awards evening to receive a trophy for the most inventive youth project of the year, for taking a team of wheelchair dancers to Holland for the annual dance festival..
Barking celebrated St George’s day in big way, with major events for schools in the park and dancing in front of the Town Hall. Thameside provided demonstrations and public participation with able bodied dancers throughout the day, outside the Town Hall.
Thameside provided an hour of demonstration and participation wheelchair dancing at Southend’s St Christopher Special School, disability awareness day. It was a great success with lots of people wanting to take part.
June was a busy month starting with a return visit to Barking Town Hall in the sunshine to promote dancing, followed by a disability awareness day at Barkings’ Vicarage Fields Shopping Centre. It finished with a special disability awareness day at Kingsdown School, where groups of able bodied children from a number of schools in the Borough attended Kingsdown to be made aware of the difficulties of living and working with disabilities, including operating wheelchairs.
Attended two events in June the first in Bromley at a college for people with disabilities. It was a super venue with lots of people willing take part. Hopefully they will be able to include dancing in their activities. The second event was at the bye- annual Hythe festival, with lots of activities throughout the week and we performed one afternoon at the local Age for Concern Centre, with hope that they would include dancing in their program
August and September.
Generally much quieter months in school holidays, with only our afternoon classes and visits to the day centres to keep us occupied
We did however have one very wet and windy outing to the Brighton disability Awareness Day. It was held on the promenade in the rain and gale force winds. Attendance was poor and it was difficult for all outside activities.
We managed to complete our performance under extreme conditions, but it did little to help the disappointed organisers. Perhaps they will have better luck next year.
The Basildon disability day was an outside venue, held in the town centre with many people and passers by.
It was a bit chilly, but there were lots of stalls and a variety of singing and dancing to cheer us up. Thameside provided demonstrations , with public participation. There was a lot of interest, with one lady offering to drive a minibus to our dance sessions. Later in the same week ,we repeated a similar program with three of our dance team at the new Connexions youth centre in Shoeburyness, Southend on Sea.
The highlight of the year was the first UK National Wheelchair Dance Competition, held in Birmingham. Competition was a bit limited in the junior category, but Thameside entered couples in six dance events and one team in the group dance event. All performed with colours with lots of medals.
The new members of the group had the pleasure to return to School with a cup for the junior group dance award.
At the end of November Margaret and I Travelled to Malta for the Bye-annual Malta Dance Festival, followed by a three day seminar for wheelchair dance adjudication and more advanced wheelchair dance training. Hopefully this will help us to prepare our dancers who have been upgraded from novice to amateur.
Once again this has been a rewarding year and we would like to thank all those who have helped to make it such a success.
Geoff Howlett and Maragret Brix (Thameside Wheelchair Dancing)
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