RADiate is a project which specialises in providing subsidised dance classes to children on the autism spectrum, including children with moderate to severe and complex learning difficulties, and those who are non verbal.
The RADiate project aims to deliver dance sessions to children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability), including ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), BESD (Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties) and those on the Child Protection register. These sessions develop a child’s personal strengths, boost self-esteem, and encourage relaxation and fun.
We work to achieve this by:
- delivering fun, creative and sensory dance activities, underpinned by a coherent structure, enabling children to work alongside their peers and support staff to reach their full potential, and
- working in partnership with the school staff, including those who support during the sessions, to ensure that children make progress at their own pace and in a supportive and motivational environment.
These are delivered by a small team of highly-experienced teachers on a weekly basis at primary schools in South West London.
Many of the children find it difficult to engage in group activities. RADiate tutors are experienced in using activities which will attract the children into the group, so that taking part becomes a fun experience. This is done in close collaboration with the staff at each school.
They also benefit from:
- an alternative, non verbal way to express themselves and their individuality
- the opportunity to develop at their own pace, with the support of a teaching assistant
- support with learning all the action words found in dance - through physically doing them - which can help the children to understand them better
- the use of Makaton Signing – to support language skills, and a Visual Timetable, to let both children and support staff know what is going to happen and in what order
- on-going weekly classes, which give children with severe and complex learning difficulties the opportunity to make gradual progress within the routine and structure of the class, and
- a class which repeats moves each week and develops them slowly, as appropriate for children with autism who find change difficult.
Evidence of our success can be seen in the endorsements below:
“Children were being transported outside of the constraints of their condition and connecting with people and their surroundings in a more self-aware and rewarding way. Most importantly, these classes celebrate ability rather than disability and promote a real sense of joy.”
Michael Nunn, RADiate Ambassador
“The RADiate sessions provide a huge boost to their self-esteem and give them time out from the pressures of the classroom where the demanding curriculum overwhelms them; they can’t cope and this chips away at them. So the dance sessions where they can achieve are very important for them.”
Teacher from Granard Primary School
“[Name of child] loves dancing. This has moved from a vague sense before he started at RADiate to a full-blown craze since attending. A child like ours, at a mainstream school, is the best at nothing. But through the classes, he is able to take part on a level playing field. He loves getting others to join in and it gives him the unusual experience of being the one 'in charge' rather than always following.”
Parent of a child attending RADiate sessions at RAD headquarters
“For the last two years, 8 schools have continued to send their students to the sessions at RAD headquarters. This has resulted in impressive developments in their dance skills, including the ability to remember and anticipate long sequences of movement and to focus and co-operate with a partner and in a group, as well as significant developments in their social, language and communication skills.”
Sue Burton, RADiate Lead Tutor
New funding and RADiate Ambassador
This year we received generous funding from the City of London Corporation’s charity, the City Bridge Trust. This will allow us to consolidate and expand this inclusive outreach project into more schools, and meet more students’ needs beyond the London boroughs of Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Southwark.
Read about the success of RADiate at a school in South London .
Drawings by students from Smallwood Primary School inspired by their RADiate dance sessions (click to enlarge)
Find out more about our other community projects and how you can support us.
Main photo: David Tett.