KEEPING THE BEES BUZZING
Dance club faces closure Young kids left in tears
A battle to save a lifeline disability dance school has begun in East Kilbride.
Ballet Bees faces closure after losing more than a dozen staff and volunteers within a year of opening.
The club’s shock announcement as the Saturday sessions ended for summer left some of its young members in tears.
The pioneering charity – which was the first of its kind in Scotland – supports children with disabilities and life-limiting illnesses through music and movement. Weekly dance classes are attended by up to 20 kids from across Lanarkshire.
Founder Trina McNicol this week issued a heartfelt plea to the local community in the hope of finding a group who could provide voluntary support to keep Ballet Bees buzzing.
Susanne Bogan, whose young daughter Emma is a member of the Bees, told the News yesterday: “Emma has a ball every week dancing with her friends. We will be so disappointed if it does end. Hopefully Ballet Bees can be saved.”
A lifeline East Kilbride dance school for children with disabilites and lifelimiting illnesses is facing the threat of closure.
Through live music and contemporary dance, Ballet Bees enables up to 20 children from across Lanarkshire to express themselves every week – helping to increase their confidence and communication skills.
But the vital group – which was the first of its kind in Scotland – is now facing an uncertain future following the loss of eight teaching staff and six volunteer workers within a year of its inception.
The shock announcement was made during a recent visit from East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow MP Dr Lisa Cameron MP – reducing children to tears.
Ballet Bees founder Trina McNicol told the News this week that in order to survive, the group, based in St Mark’s Church in The Murray, needs to pool resources with another local club willing to provide voluntary support.
“I’m trying very hard to keep Ballet Bees going,” she said. “Since our teaching staff and volunteers left, it’s just been me and my assistant so we really have been struggling.
“A lot of the children have life-limiting illnesses and undergo major operations on a regular basis so health and safety is paramount.
“It costs thousands of pounds to put people through training and I can’t afford to subsidise any more so I’m looking for a partner to work with – someone who has the heart for working with children with disabilities.
“If we can join up with a mainstream dance studio and use their facilities we can still hold a class every week – and I am very willing to be involved and help with the training techniques.
“We strive to provide only the best for the children so if we can find that right link and the support to take things forward it will happen. The children of East Kilbride deserve this.”
The idea for the classes arose after local mum Susanne Bogan couldn’t find a mainstream dance class suitable for her 10-year-old daughter, Emma, who is in a wheelchair.
She then came across a class in Bristol online and took the idea to create a dance session that catered for children of all abilities to Buddy’s Field.
Working together – and with the help of Magpie Dance, an organisation at the forefront of dance for people with disabilities based in London – Ballet Bees was launched in April last year.
The vision is to create a world where disabled people have the same range of opportunities. and a culture of integrated social and wellbeing activity, where everyone works together as equals.
Susanne said: “I looked for a dance school for over five years before meeting Trina and it took Trina another couple of years to get it off the ground so we will be so disappointed if it does end.
“Emma has a ball every week dancing with her friends and putting on a show for the family, she will miss it and she will be missing out on a vital part of childhood by no longer having a club to enjoy with her peers.
“Hopefully Ballet Bees can be saved.”
Trina, who is originally from Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire, added: “No other dance school can take on the children we take. Some have no movement or speech and are on ventillators – but they absolutely love the classes which are a source of great joy for the parents too.
“Children do things with us that they can’t do during therapy. During a class one of the children got out of her wheelchair for the first time – and she was beaming the whole time.
“Having the option of enjoying dance is a rite of passage for these children and something which had not been available to them – they shouldn’t be denied that. “I would love to link up with dance schools nationwide and run age-distinct classes so all kids in Scotland are being catered for. There just needs to be more commitment to be
able to do this.”
Dr Cameron visited Ballet Bees earlier this month to present the group with an Early Day Motion to commend their work on inclusion in music and dance.
After learning the group was in trouble, she mounted a Facebook campaign to try to save the club from closure.
Dr Cameron is due to meet with the club’s organisers this week for further discussions.
“Ballet Bees is a fantastic club which offers music and dance activity for children with disabilities who are often excluded from regular classes,” she told the News.
“If it closes, many of our most vulnerable local children will be very badly affected and the confidence they have grown snatched away.
“We cannot allow this to happen and I am asking for local support to ensure children with disabilities continue to have access to music and dance.”
The group can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter @balletbees or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
So happy Emma Bogan is a member of the Ballet Bees but the club faces the threat of closure
Plea Founder Trina McNicol