"I have to say that’s the first class we’ve gone to and not been judged, Louie was able to come and go. Thank you for making that possible"

Nearly two-thirds, 61 percent, of disabled people experience chronic loneliness. This figure rises to 70 percent among young disabled people1. In London alone, 18 percent of disabled people feel isolated.

Opportunities for disabled young people to engage in activities alongside their families and in spaces that are truly adapted to their needs are rare. Inclusive Zumba in Bexley was aimed at creating a pan-disability session where the whole family can participate together.

Zumba is a dance and fitness programme that incorporates cardio and Latin-inspired dance. Access Sport upskilled Emma, the club founder, through our YMCA-endorsed Disability Inclusion Training and provided funding for the first term of her inclusive sessions. The sessions have been adapted by slowing down the routines, ensuring the music isn’t too loud and only including a few steps in the sequences.

“I wanted to create an environment where no one would feel judged, and everyone can be themselves.” – Emma Lock, Zumba Instructor

There have been 24 sessions with over 39 children attending, averaging seven disabled young people per week. Our team has supported the growth of these sessions by offering taster sessions during the holidays and promoting them across our extensive networks. We are now supporting Emma to run these sessions sustainably and are looking for partnerships with community partners.

By regularly bringing together disabled young people and their families, these sessions have fostered a genuine sense of belonging. The participants are free from judgement and have formed meaningful connections with their peers, improving their social connectedness.

Louie is an autistic young person with ADHD. Louie’s mum said:

“Just wanted to say, thank you so much for tonight. We absolutely loved the class, probably me more than Louie. I have to say that’s the first class we’ve gone to and not been judged, Louie was able to come and go. Thank you for making that possible.”



References

1Sense, Left Out of Life Campaign