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Digital platform brings dance to blind people

Step Change Studios and Metro Blind Sport has launched a free digital platform of multi-lingual dance sessions for blind and partially sighted people.

Funded by the Vision Foundation, Dance Dosti is supporting people with sight loss to be active through dance. The first phase of the project is Dance Dosti digital – a website containing over 100 dance sessions in English, Bengali, Gujarati and Hindi.

Step Change Studios Founder Rashmi Becker explained the thinking behind the project:

The idea for Dance Dosti came from seeing the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people from certain demographics. People from a South Asian background and disabled people have reported greater isolation and inactivity. We know the positive difference dance makes to our quality of life, irrespective of age or ability. It benefits both body and mind.

Our free digital programme is designed as short sessions that can be fitted in to daily life. We want to support people to enjoy learning to dance, to be active at home, and to transition to creative and physical activity outside the home.”

All sessions are delivered by South Asian dancers, with a choice of seated and standing dance, and video and audio formats for different abilities.

The Dance Dosti project will promote physical activity and use the benefits of dance to bring people together and improve health and wellbeing. The project combines different elements including home and community-based dance, engaging local partners and volunteers to support participation, and providing advice for dance and fitness providers on inclusive practice.

Martin Symcox, CEO of Metro Blind Sport said:

Blind and partially sighted people face barriers in taking part in physical activity and engaging in social activities. I am pleased that this exciting project with Rashmi and her team at Step Change Studios is designed to overcome these barriers and open opportunities up to dance.

Within the visually impaired community there are certain groups who can face a “double disadvantage”. This programme aims to empower and target at risk communities through a tailored approach, that will enable people to be active by engaging them in spaces and ways they prefer.

Olivia Curno, Chief Executive of the Vision Foundation, said:

We couldn’t be more excited about funding this project. While it’s about music, movement and fun, it’s also so much more. Dance Dosti provides opportunities for an underserved community to engage in an activity to boost both physical and mental health. Learning from the programme will inform the development of more diverse, inclusive opportunities to be creative and active.

A series of free community-based programmes will be piloted in five London boroughs from Autumn 2021 and will be tailored to local communities, supporting blind and partially sighted people to learn to dance and to develop their potential. To take part in Dance Dosti digital visit: www.dancedosti.com.

Image: Dance Dosti

simon@simonfrancis.org

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.