KEEP­ING THE BEES BUZZING

Dance club faces clo­sure Young kids left in tears

East Kilbride News - - FRONT PAGE - An­drea O’Neill

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 bal­let­bees@gmail.com

So happy Emma Bo­gan is a mem­ber of the Bal­let Bees but the club faces the threat of clo­sure

Plea Founder Trina McNi­col

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