Magpie Dance, an organisation that uses dance and music to help young people with learning disabilities to boost their confidence, communication and friendships, will be able to hold sessions throughout the next year thanks to a grant from the Care UK wellbeing foundation.
Around 40 people aged 16-25 will be encouraged and supported to create their own dances with the help of experienced facilitators and live musicians over 60 sessions.
Sarah Cobley, head of development and partnerships at Magpie Dance, said: “Many young people with learning disabilities have communication issues, with some having little or no verbal communication. Dance, in a safe and supportive environment, gives them a means of non-verbal communication and creativity – it gives them a unique and expressive voice.”
One of the key elements the £2,000 grant will support is the participation of professional musicians who can follow the dancers’ movements. Sarah explained that recorded music can cause the dancers concern: if they miss a beat, they feel they have done wrong, but with the music following them their confidence grows.
Participants’ parents are reporting extraordinary results from the sessions, held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Bromley United Reformed Church.
Sarah said: “One parent reported that their daughter no longer needs to take anti-depressants and their doctor has been able to halve other medication. Nine out of 10 participants say their health and confidence have improved as a result of attending – three-quarters of attenders say they feel better about themselves and say they have felt better able to communicate with other people. We have also had parents tell us that their child has become not only more communicative but also more empathetic.”
Rosemary Harvey, secretary of the Care UK wellbeing foundation, said: “The Board was delighted to be able to support these invaluable sessions. The foundation was established to increase the wellbeing of communities through the arts and I think Magpie Dance clearly not only increases the wellbeing and happiness of the participants but also their families.”
Amelia Moore, customer relations manager at Care UK’s Foxbridge House care home in Orpington, presented the cheque to Magpie Dance. She said: “It was a wonderful experience meeting the young participants and their parents. At Foxbridge House, residents love music and dancing activities and we know how they promote health and wellbeing but, for those living with dementia, it also gives them a means of expression and that’s invaluable.”
The Care UK wellbeing foundation is encouraging local grass roots charities which use the arts to promote community wellbeing to apply for funding for anything from £50 to £2,000.
Anybody can nominate a charity by visiting careukwellbeingfoundation.com/nominations