Dance teacher from Gosport takes her classes online to help children with additional needs
A DANCE teacher has been offering relief to families of young people with additional needs by running dance and cheer Zoom classes in lockdown.
Lara Hallam, from Gosport, formed the Dance and Cheer-a-cality school in 2011 with her cheerleading squads going on to win eight awards at the UK Cheer City competition in 2019.
Seeing that the young people with additional needs were missing the exercise and interaction of dance classes, Lara started classes for children with learning difficulties in conjunction with charity Leonard Cheshire.
Together they have been running classes for 150 young people aged 12 to 35 throughout the UK.
Lara’s Zoom classes, which are part of the charity’s Can Do scheme, reach 50 young people with both physical disabilities and learning difficulties in the Fareham, Locks Heath and Hedge End areas and she used her cheerleading skills to teach Pom Pom dance moves which proved a major hit with young people and parents.
She said: ‘Cheerleading allows people of all different heights and athletic abilities to be able to create a team so it's it really worked with the ethos of the dance school which has been that we accept everyone and we do it for fun.’
Lara said she makes sure that the level of each class is tailored to the needs of whoever comes along, whether they are wheelchair users or have other disabilities.
She said: ‘I could see from the screens if people were physically maybe more mobile, or if perhaps they were in a wheelchair. So the routines that we created, were just adapted to whoever had logged on for that session.’
Rusalka Compton, aged 14, has Down syndrome and she has been going to Dance-a-cality classes since the age of seven.
She really enjoyed the chance to socialise once again, to beat the isolation of lockdown.
Rusalka’s mother Cecile Compton said: ‘What she really enjoyed was the fact that she saw the girls that she normally dances with on Wednesdays.
‘So they would, look at each other, have a little chat before and after the class. And you know, that was a relief….. to see her light up a bit.’
Lara said the current online classes will continue but is excited about getting back into face to face teaching.
She said: ‘We want to launch the SEN classes face to face and hopefully work towards a big show in a theatre, like a big 10th anniversary show that we want to have for this year.’
For more go to dance-a-cality.co.uk/