On Saturday I joined in with 3 groups of children taking part in Dance activities organised by Stepping Stones DS.
Sarah (Zoe’s mum & Chair of the charity) and Sarah (parent of Adam, aged 7), gave us a warm SSDS welcome to Ridgeway School, a special needs school which the charity block books for these classes.
With the youngest group kicking things off, under the professional leadership from Leila and Victoria, it was clear that the songs and dance are designed to stimulate senses, develop coordination and body awareness. But above all, to have fun and the children love it.
In the meantime, parents get to have a break. Safe in the knowledge that their child is under professional supervision, time to chat with parents about other things, or just have a timeout, is precious.
Stepping Stones DS provides support for children with Downs syndrome and parents in several ways. Peer to peer support, for those who want it, is obviously an extremely valuable resource for so many parents.
As with all child disabilities, the child and the family inevitably face complex challenges. Sarah and the team from SSDS are conscious to ensure that parents have the access to support but are careful not to impose it on anyone. It’s there for those who choose to embrace it but everyone handles their own situation differently.
Back in the studio, the next group are underway. Charlie, a film student from Farnborough Sixth Form College, has him camera rolling for a short film about SSDS much to the interest of an inquisitive young Logan.
Chatting with Adam’s mum, Sarah, it is clear how SSDS has provided valuable support. Sarah is one of those parents who make you just think ‘wow’. Very matter-of-fact and strikingly blasé about enormous challenges that she takes in her stride, Sarah tells me how SSDS has encouraged her and Adam to have a can-do attitude.
Ten years since Stepping Stones DS was founded, they now have over 130 members, ranging in age from new born to 19 years old. Parents of younger children can look to the older children as an example of what can be achieved and if desired, the support to help get there.
As Sarah (Chair) so brilliantly puts it, they strive to empower extraordinary children to be ordinary.