Step Change Studios and Metro Blind Sport have announced a free dance programme in Newham for visually impaired people as part of the Dance Dosti initiative.
Funded by the Vision Foundation, the Dance Dosti initiative supports visually impaired people from a South Asian background to be active. The first phase of the project – Dance Dosti digital – established a website containing over 100 dance sessions in English, Bengali, Gujarati and Hindi.
The second phase sees Dance Dosti piloting face-to-face dance programmes in London. The Newham programme is supported by Newham Ability Camp and will take place at Newham Sixth Form College, E13 8SG. It starts on January 26th with one-hour sessions running from 5pm-6pm each Wednesday for 12 weeks.
The first two pilots which recently took place in Ealing and Tower Hamlets saw participants report a range of benefits including improved physical and mental health, confidence, independence and feeling part of a community.
Volunteers wanted too!
Dance Dosti is also looking for community volunteers to fulfil two important roles at Newham. Firstly, to support people in the classes by guiding them to follow the moves and secondly to help people navigate the route between the local station and venue to enable them to attend. No previous experience is necessary and Dance Dosti will supply DBS checks. Poonam, 27, volunteered on the Ealing programme and found it very rewarding. “It was a wonderful opportunity to do something greater with my time and reconnect with my local community,” she says. “Volunteering gave me a better awareness of how to improve accessibility and an increased level of compassion. Also, I’ve had an absolute blast and thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone. It was a pleasure coming across this programme!”
Rashmi Becker, Founder of Step Change Studios said: “The aim of our live dance programmes is to create a supportive, fun environment where visually impaired people can learn to dance, make friends, develop new skills and improve their physical and emotional wellbeing. We know that cost can often be a barrier to participation, so we are delighted that we are able to make these classes free to access, thanks to support from Vision Foundation”.
Martin Symcox, CEO of Metro Blind Sport said: “Blind and partially sighted people face barriers in taking part in physical activity and engaging in social activities. Within the visually impaired community there are certain groups who can face a “double disadvantage”. Dance Dosti aims to empower people that face greater exclusion by providing accessible dance and supporting the transition from home to community-based activity.”
Dance Dosti will monitor the impact of dance on a range of measures including mental and physical health, confidence, friendships, and independence. Learning from the programme will inform the development of more diverse, inclusive opportunities to be creative and active.
To register for the Newham dance programme visit:
www.dancedosti.com/pilots or call 07462 895461