‘WHEELCHAIR’ and ‘dancing’ are not two words that you would usually put together, but a new movement is taking the world by storm.
The Wheelchair Dance Sport Association UK was founded in 2006 and has gone from strength to strength ever since, and the International Paralympic Committee holds a world cup every two years, with the next event taking place in St Petersburg, Russia, in September.
A Wickford woman is now hoping to bring the sport to the local area.
Karen Hampson, 45, has dystonia, a neurological movement disorder syndrome which result in twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal fixed postures.
She initially trained to support disabled people working out in gyms.
However, she was inspired after learning about wheelchair dance and undertook a five day course to become a qualified instructor.
She said: “There was a team called Strictly Wheels on Britain’s Got Talent in 2012.
“They broke down the definition of dance to involve everyone.
“Everyone and anyone can dance – that is what this is all about.”
A range of styles are adapted for wheelchairs, including street and the more traditional waltz.
The dances can be done alone or in pairs and groups.
Although not as well known about as other wheelchair sports including basketball and rugby, competitions take place all over the world, including Kazakhstan, Manhattan, Serbia and Belgium.
Karen, who doesn’t use a wheelchair, added that there are many benefits of wheelchair dance.
“I have dystonia so I understand how difficult it can be to get involved in mainstream activities.
“Wheelchair dance and other sports can help break down these barriers.
“It is a great way to get fit, meet new people and really boost your confidence.
“It will give people the confidence to maybe go on the dance floor if they are on a night out.
“It is really easy to feel isolated when you have a disability, but this is a chance to meet other people, get out the house and have fun.”
Karen, who works for the NHS, wants to run the classes voluntarily to start with is hoping to run different classes for the different types of dance, including street, samba, waltz and the quickstep.
She may also branch into zumba.
However, she is currently seeking somewhere to hold the sessions.
The space would need to be quite large, accessible for wheelchairs and have a many fire exits to enable it to be used safely by the dancers.
A gym or church hall would be ideal, according to Karen.
If you can suggest a location, or want to get involved, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Kirsty Hough, Echo News.
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