Leaps and Bounds

Leaps & Bounds (c) Brian SlaterLeaps and Bounds: a dance class adults with learning disabilities

Leaps and Bounds is part of a partnership with Leeds Adult Social Care to create opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to take part in group activities that combine movement, fun and dance in a sociable environment. As support services for learning disabled adults have moved from centralised day-care into community-care, services through partners like Yorkshire Dance enable people to meet old friends, learn new skills and enjoy a regular group activity where their needs are understood and met. Classes take place each week at Yorkshire Dance, led by dance teacher Zoe Parker and are part of Yorkshire Dance’s ongoing commitment to fostering creativity and innovation through dance with the wider community. In the last two years Yorkshire Dance has worked with many learning disabled adults through the Leaps & Bounds programme.

Sam Silkstone is a Support Worker for Leeds City Council who has been bringing a group of four adults to Leaps and Bounds for two years.

“The weekly class enables participants to express themselves through movement and really importantly, on their own terms. The approach the dance teachers take means people are allowed to express things in their own time and way, without pressure and they’re not expected to learn someone else’s routine;  it’s wonderful to see people being encouraged to follow their own hearts and have the freedom to do that.

“It also means they often do things we wouldn’t expect and that they find their own rhythm and voice. You can see the difference it makes in people’s mobility, self-confidence, and it lifts everyone’s mood.

“These adults are based all over the city, so classes like this are a really important way to get people together and help people maintain friendships they’ve made. One of the adults I support has enjoyed it so much she comes to two classes each week now.”

Colin Skinner has been a Support Worker with Leeds City Council for four years, and lives in Leeds.

“I bring eight adults from Potternewton Fulfilling-Life Service, a day centre for adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. You can tell people love coming to this class because I don’t have to run round to get them to come; they’re ready and waiting for the mini-bus to collect them each week.

“We have a weekly disco and we noticed at that, that one of the group, Victoria, really enjoys dancing, so we invited her to come to Leaps & Bounds earlier this summer. She’s loved it ever since and looks forward to it all week.

“It’s a really varied programme and gives people gentle exercise, but it’s their session, we don’t interfere. It’s as good for me as it is for them – I get to know the adults I support better, and they get to know more about me. They need to feel safe but it’s also good to push the boundaries and encourage them to express themselves in s safe, friendly environment – the class really helps bring out people’s sense of expression and individuality. They always seem calmer at the end.

“By Friday, I’m tired but they’re still full of energy, so this class gets them moving, but most importantly it gives them a purpose and a goal. They gain a sense of personal achievement, and work at a level they’re happy with. Leaps & Bounds celebrates them, and their own achievements.” 

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2013