Leonard Cheshire Disability is inviting disabled dancers to take part in ‘Strictly Cymru’, a dance competition exclusively for disabled people.

‘Strictly Cymru’ is open to keen disabled dancers, between 16 and 65 years old. The competition started in Barry last weekend with the first of five regional heats, with the grand final taking place on 7 April 2018.

In attendance on Saturday was Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales, who met the participants and learned more about the project.

“I was hugely impressed with the skills being learnt," Mr Cains. "Confidence, fitness and motivation are all elements of a healthy lifestyle and essential to living a full and active life, which is nothing less than the participants need and deserve.”

'Thrilling experience'

Many participants will come from Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Welsh care homes or inclusive volunteering programme Can Do, as local dance groups. The regional heat winners were Rob Pugh, 48, from Danybryn Cheshire Home and Chloe and Reece, students from Motion Control Dance Barry.

Rob commented that he “had a great time, meeting new people and learning new things - it was the first time I had danced for many years, and I’m really looking forward to the final.” Chloe said that she was “thrilled to be part of the Strictly Cymru event, it’s really good exercise,” while Reece said that “the dance was really fun to do.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability are working in partnership with inclusive dance company Step Change Studios to deliver Strictly Cymru. Step Change Studios will provide dance instruction and a professional dance performance at each of the regional heats, and prepare regional winners to compete with a professional partner at the national finals.

Rashmi Becker, founder and director of Step Change Studios said: “One in five people in Wales has a disability. I set up Step Change Studios as a response to the lack of opportunities for disabled people to participate in dance. A key barrier to participation is the lack of engagement from organisations that can enable more and better access and inclusion. So I am thrilled to be supporting Leonard Cheshire to present 'Strictly Cymru'.”

Leonard Cheshire research shows as much appetite for sport and exercise among disabled people as there is in the wider population, but there are barriers to participation.

‘Strictly Cymru’ is one of many projects the charity is running to support more disabled people into sport.