An Accrington-based dance charity, which aims to empower people with learning disabilities through dance, has been given more than £14,000 in funding.

DanceSyndrome has been awarded £14,733 of National Lottery funding from Sport England.

The money will be used to deliver outreach work to help them to develop their new DS Youth Collective.

The grant will allow DanceSyndrome to work with young people across Lancashire in schools and other community settings to demonstrate the mental and physical health benefits of taking part in inclusive dance.

For those that enjoy the outreach work, there is the opportunity to join DanceSyndrome’s ‘DS Youth Collective’, which is delivered in Blackburn on Monday evenings.

This is a new group which was formed as part of DanceSyndrome’s new project as an Arts Council England national portfolio organisation.

In their weekly sessions, the group work on learning transferrable skills for performance and learning dance techniques with a view to performing a range of dance styles, as well as skills which can be used in all walks of life. 

Like all DanceSyndrome’s work, the DS Youth Collective is co-produced and co-delivered by people with learning disabilities working side by side with non-disabled dancer artists.

The Accrington-based charity was founded by Jen Blackwell, who has Down's syndrome, in 2009.

Jen found it difficult to find opportunities to train and work in dance because of her learning disability.

With the help of her parents, DanceSyndrome was set up with the ethos that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams.

Earlier this year, Jen was given a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the first King’s Birthday Honours. 

All DanceSyndrome sessions are co-produced, with people with learning disabilities taking visible dance leader roles to inspire people to see what can be achieved when we all become more inclusive.

Each dancer leader works in partnership with a professional dance artist to co-produce high quality inclusive dance sessions for people with and without disabilities to enjoy together.

Julie Nicholson, DanceSyndrome managing director, is thrilled to have been awarded the funding.

She said: “We are delighted to have secured this funding via Sport England to support our new DS Youth Collective.

"This is a really exciting time for DanceSyndrome as we grow as an organisation. We have wanted to offer high quality opportunities for young people for a long time and we’re very grateful to now have the right funding in place to support this vital work and to enable us to go out into local communities and encourage people to get involved with our work.

“Thank you to everyone who plays the National Lottery, we wouldn’t be able to do this without you."