This April we were fortunate to have Howard Wilkinson, and his partner, Nicole Venter, from Melbourne working with us for two weeks. Howard and Nicole are dance therapists; Howard having more than ten years experience in providing dance-music therapy for children with special needs.
Dance therapy is the use of music, movement and dance to aid emotional, cognitive, social, behavioural and physical conditions. It pinions on the belief that everybody has a healthy, internal creative force which can be expressed intuitively through music, with mainly non-verbal guidance from the therapist. Through the unity of mind, body and spirit that come into play through the therapy, the individual experiences a sense of wholeness that may be typically denied them in the limitations of their day-to-day life. Very importantly, it can give children with special needs a sense of fitting-in through improved social interaction.
The following are a few of the things that dance therapy can bring into being, and which we did see happening in our children over this magical 2 week period:
- Improved body image
- Increased self-confidence
- Development of better organisational skills
- Spacial and sequencial awareness
- Improved motor skills, balance and use of limbs
- A way to express emotion beyond certain limitations
- Reduced anxiety
- Bonded and strengthened relationships
At the end of the fortnight, the children performed a concert for their family and friends. It was a huge success but it reflected only a small part of what the children and staff had learned and experienced. One of the main aims of the concert was for families to see their children in a positive and extremely creative act and to thus enhance their own perceptions of what their children could achieve. We are happy to say that this also, was a success.
We are the only centre in the region offering such a comprehensive range of services and therapies to children with disabilities.