Para dance set for participation boost

Disabled people could benefit from dance lessons in spa resorts after Para Dance UK received a breakthrough funding boost.

The governing body for para dance sport has announced a partnership with the Charitable Foundation of Champneys, who run several spas and hotels.

As part of their support for para dance, plans are being drawn up to train Champneys staff in delivering dance classes for people with disabilities. It is hoped that the therapeutic qualities of dancing will add to the services already provided at their facilities.

As well as benefitting the sport at grassroots level, Champneys Charitable Foundation's support will allow Para Dance Sport Team GB to attend the European Championship in 2018 and also support the development of training around classification and adjudication.

"It's a developing plan that we're really excited about," Para Dance UK's Instructor Support Officer Iain Richards told ConnectSport. "We will be starting with a dance event at one of their resorts later this year in the hope of raising participation and exploring how dance can help on a therapeutic level.

"The funding will also help us in developing athletes for international competitions. At the moment we only have one couple competing worldwide and we want to bring more athletes into that environment and grow and train that team."

Para Dance UK works with around 1000 people with disabilities per month through training programmes, dance classes and school sessions. Every year they work with 10 special needs schools in London to embed dance in their curriculum by providing training to staff.

"We have four main elements to our ethos – safety, equality, dignity and fun," added Richards. "The first two are self-explanatory, but dignity is important as we like people to be comfortable and confident; and if they're not having fun, we're not doing it right!"