Anna Kennedy OBE’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ weekly Womens Radio Show was Jane Franklyn
Inclusive clubs for children, why am I so passionate?
Growing up I was very fortunate to be able to take part in dance classes most nights after school throughout my school life. I loved everything about being part of a dance school, a team, a social network and of course exploring my love of movement and performance.
To give that opportunity now to a variety of children within my own sessions at my own dance school community Sparkle Dance, is hugely rewarding and I feel very fortunate to be able to inspire young people and their love of all aspects of performing.
Once I became a mum to both my children, who happen to have additional needs, I felt an even bigger urge to do something about the fact that so many families like mine didn’t experience the same happy, welcoming feeling you should get when joining an after school/weekend activity. I was in a position as a Dance school owner to be able to do something about the lack of opportunity and choice for families of children with additional needs. This is where I created our Dance for All project.
Dance for All brings together local dance schools and educational schools to celebrate inclusion, diversity and difference through Dance and Performing Arts. Our annual show is a chance to showcase every performer and offer opportunity to all those children that wish to join us, without exception.
Our regular All Stars sessions which are a specialist programme designed for those that require additional support, are helped strongly by our team of Dance for All ‘Young Ambassadors’. They play a vital role in supporting our young people to access the dance curriculum as well as being a guide, mentor and buddy.
My son Charlie, who is now 9 years old, has participated in our All Stars programme and Dance for All project alongside his sister Sofia who is 3 years old and his All stars classmates. He soon came to realise that he would like to create something similar to this programme but with sport as the focus.
He came to Dan (my husband) and I to ask us if he could create a team called ‘Autistic FC’. He wanted to create a football team that welcomed children that in his words were “Just like me”. With Dan’s background in fitness coaching and his love of football we started this summer on the journey to creating Autistic FC and Football for All.
To see Charlie welcoming other Autistic young people to the sessions and sharing the pitch with children “Just like him” was heart warming, uplifting and certainly a moment to be proud of.
Who knows what will come next, the world’s our oyster!
Please listen the full radio interview on the podcast below: