A husband and wife team are sharing their love of dance and design to help people with disabilities.
West End choreographer Garner Harris and costume designer Sandy’s company, The Creative Seed, have been working with PRS Inclusion Services to provide opportunities for those with disabilities to take part in activities.
The project has proved such a hit with clients, it has resulted in a contract between the two companies being extended.
Each week, people diagnosed with a range of physical disabilities are invited to join the couple at Hedworthfield Community Centre in Fellgate, where they are encouraged to express themselves through art and dance.
Garner said: “We have been working with PRS for about a year now and the sessions are going brilliantly. Everyone who comes along really enjoys themselves and they really get stuck in.
“As part of the sessions, we produced a short film which was shown at the library as part of disability awareness week.
No matter what the disability, everyone can take part - including those in wheelchairs. The sessions are very inclusive.Garner Harris
“The sessions are designed so no matter what the disability, everyone can take part – including those in wheelchairs. It’s about making dance accessible for all.”
On average there are about 25 people who take part in the twice-weekly sessions, moving to the sounds of carnival-style music and creating colourful costumes and props.
A spokesman for PRS Inclusion Services, which is based at Cookson House, South Shields, said: “For those of us with a learning disability, it can become difficult to express what makes us unique – our likes and dislikes, choices and reasons.
“People support us every day and respect our independence, but sometimes we need the chance to communicate who we are and develop our identity.
“This project with The Creative Seed helps us discover ourselves in a new way. When we dance and move, we do it in ways that are totally unique to each of us.
“Music communicates with us.
“The way we create art is also unique to us, but others can understand it, and so they can understand us. “The impact of this is not to be underestimated. Not only do we learn how our bodies communicate, the experience of being understood has a direct effect on the way we assert ourselves and make choices in other areas of our lives.”
The Creative Seed is a community interest company which aims to produce high quality and accessible creative projects.
Since the couple launched it, they have taken part heavily in South Tyneside’s Summer Festival parade and other events throughout the North East, hosted dance workshops for school pupils and community groups.
l For information on The Creative Seed, visit www.thecreativeseed.co.uk