Young people with learning disabilities from a Kendal arts and social group are performing at the Brewery Arts Centre in June.
The ‘Dance and Drama Group’ was developed by Cumbria County Council as part of the Short Breaks for Disabled Children programme in conjunction with Kendal-based charity The Oaklea Trust, with the aim to offer a fun and safe environment for young people with learning disabilities to express themselves.
Jennifer Hone, from The Oaklea Trust, explains further: “Right from the start, the group has been really well attended and is a great experience for these young people. The drama and dance helps with confidence building and the group has really gone from strength to strength.”
The club, which currently has twelve young people aged between 8 and 19 years, meets every Thursday during school term times at the Castle Street Centre in Kendal and so far the group has performed two showcases for their friends and family: Oliver and High School Musical were both chosen by the children themselves, with High School Musical in particular featuring some very special interpretations of some of the songs.
“One member of the group has speech difficulties and mainly communicates through sign language.” continues Jen Hone, “She taught the rest of the group how to sign the lyrics and the whole group performed by both singing and signing – it really was quite an achievement for everyone and simply brilliant to see!”
The tutor at the Dance and Drama Group is Jo Hope from the Stagecoach Performing Arts School: “Through the games and activities we undertake with the group we have seen these young people blossom and their confidence growing.
All of the children are incredibly committed and always give 100%. Likewise, their friends and families have been brilliant in supporting the group and everyone has achieved something really positive from our weekly sessions.”
They are currently working on extracts from the musical, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and are performing at the Brewery Arts Centre on Saturday 25th June as part of a showcase of young talent. Tickets are available from The Brewery Arts Centre and everyone is welcome to come along and watch.
Helen Moffitt, Dance Development Officer at the Brewery Arts Centre, says “The Brewery has been running the ‘Dance Platform’ events for 8 years. They are an opportunity to give people of all ages and abilities the chance to perform in a professional venue.
The sense of achievement in creating new work as a team and then hearing the applause for your efforts builds confidence and is in no way a competition (after all, there is enough competition in life!) but a chance to share new ideas and enjoy working and performing together. At the heart of the Brewery has always been our work with young people and other groups in the community.”
“Everyone involved with the group is so excited by the thought of performing at the Brewery Jen Hone adds, “We’re hoping that lots of people will come along and see young people enjoying themselves, developing their artistic skills and putting on a great show.”
The funding for the Dance and Drama Group is due to end in September which may mean that ‘Joseph’ may be the last production for these budding stars of the stage. The Oaklea Trust are looking at all avenues to support this group past September, and are working with Cumbria County Council Obviously we’d like to continue and are looking at every avenue to raise the necessary funds. If any organisation or company would like to help us out, in any way they can, it really would be greatly appreciated.”
In the meantime, there are a number of available spaces for children with learning or physical disabilities who would like to become part of the Group, with volunteers also welcome to come and lend a hand.
Please contact Jen Hone at The Oaklea Trust on 01539 735 025 for more details.