Get yourself active blog

London’s first ever dedicated inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company has just received backing through the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund

Saturday 29 April 2017

Pioneering inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company receives backing from the dance enterprise ideas fund

  • Around 10.7 million people watch the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing
  • There are 11.2 million disabled people in the UK (that’s 1 in 5 of us)
  • Wheelchair Latin and Ballroom dance is recognised by the International Paralympic Committee and disabled and non-disabled couples compete together around the world.

Why in a city of 8.7 million people, isn’t there a single place in London to regularly participate in inclusive ballroom?

This is about to change with the establishment of the pioneering Step Change Studios – London’s first ever dedicated inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company, which has just received backing through the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund.

Established by Rashmi Becker, who has a background in disability advocacy and is guardian to her older disabled brother, and Nuno Sabroso, a respected and seasoned dance professional who was top two in the world wheelchair dance rankings, Step Change Studios will provide opportunities for everyone, from beginners wanting to dance for fun and wellbeing, to more advanced dancers wanting to compete at the highest levels or to perform.

Rashmi Becker said:

“What started as a wishful conversation with Nuno about creating opportunities for inclusive Latin and Ballroom has become a reality. Step Change Studios is a response to the ongoing calls for dedicated, regular opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people to dance together. Our personal experience of dance and disability made us determined that Latin and Ballroom dance must be inclusive not exclusive. I am heartened by the engagement from the dance, sport and disability sectors and the wider public for Step Change Studios and its vision.

“In backing Step Change Studios, the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund demonstrates a positive commitment to inclusive dance. We want Step Change Studios to be transformative, challenging perceptions of what’s possible as we create more opportunities for people to participate and achieve their potential. I am certain this early, start-up support will be a catalyst for change and enable Step Change Studios to make a positive impact”.

Polly Risbridger, Director of East London Dance and Chair of the Dance Enterprise Ideas Summit said:

The Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund panel are delighted to have awarded Rashmi and Step Change Studios funding to help launch London’s first dance company dedicated to inclusive Latin and ballroom dance. Along with the other award recipients this project is testament to the creativity, entrepreneurialism, and generosity of the UK independent dance sector and we were impressed by Rashmi’s passion about the impact she wants to make.”

Step Change Studios will deliver: regular dance classes and lessons for all levels; bespoke programmes and projects in healthcare, social care education and community settings; and professional performance works that showcase inclusive Latin and Ballroom. Established in London, Step Change Studios will also deliver tailored opportunities nationally.

Step Change Studios is supported by the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund – an East London Dance initiative funded by Foundation for FutureLondon, English National Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, Dancers’ Career Development, Discover Young Hackney & Hackney Council, Redbridge Drama Centre and Theatre Royal Stratford East and supported by One Dance UK.

Rashmi would like to hear from experienced disabled dancers interested in taking part in the showcase, and from disabled and non-disabled people, and organisations working with disabled people of all abilities and levels interested in dancing.
Visit: for contact details.

Visit our events page to find out about events that may be taking place near you.

Boccia Buddies in Bath

Friday 28 April 2017

Bath Sports and Leisure Centre invite you to join their Free Boccia Buddies sessions

Where: Bath Sports & Leisure Centre

When: 11.30-12.30

May 11th and 25th

June 8th and 22nd

July 6th and 20th

August 3rd, 17th and 31st

All equipment provided. Contact for more information.

Click here for further information about events that may be taking place near you.

Social workers needed to support with health and wellbeing research

Thursday 27 April 2017

Disability Rights UK has partnered with University of Birmingham and Sport England to develop evidence based guidelines to help social workers to have conversations with disabled people in receipt of social care support (personal budgets and direct payments) about how and where to be physically active and importantly why.

Our findings

Disability Rights UK has been working with partners in disabled people’s user led organisations to develop models of practice to support more disabled people to be active locally. The evidence we have gathered through our partners has helped us to understand that social workers are an important group of professionals who can instigate positive conversations about physical activity as part of assessment, support planning and review processes. We now want to find a way to support busy social work professionals to transfer this crucial information and knowledge about physical activity to the people they support.

Evidence based guidelines

Our guide will include;

  • Information and statistics on the benefits of physical activity for disabled people in particular
  • Examples of good practice
  • Evidence of the outcomes associated with physical activity
  • Advice in how to quickly and easily source information about what activities are available for people to access

What we need

We are seeking social work practitioners who can give up one
hour of their time this May or early June to speak with the researchers at University of Birmingham about the guidelines we have developed.

We may ask participants to take part in a further evaluation of the guidelines in July 17 for one hour.

How to get involved

If you or someone you know would be interested in taking part in the research, please contact Leanne Wightman on 020 7250 8186 or email

Always Exercise, Sometimes Sport

Wednesday 26 April 2017

This week’s Personal Experience Blog comes from Sue Kent from Mumbles, Wales

My name is Sue Kent and I am a sports massage therapist with a difference – I use my feet to provide massage in my clinic in Wales. I am the first person to gain this qualification using my feet and have had the privilege to work at the Paralympics in 2012. I have full use of my legs but 8″ arms and 7 fingers.

My disability was caused by the drug thalidomide. Thalidomiders, as we are collectively known, were all born in the late 1950s and early 1960s. There are just under 500 of us still alive in the UK today.

As a result of my condition I use my body in different ways to cope with normal everyday physical tasks. Exercise is one of the major factors that can prevent and often reverse some of the effects of the constant wear and tear on my body.

One of the reasons I am as fit as I am is thanks to my mum. At the age of five I was put into ballet classes. It was not the ballet itself, but the pre-dance stretches, that gave me the ability to reach my head with my toes. This gave me the independence to be able to wash and brush my hair and dress myself. The ballet itself gave me the balance to stand on one leg in a balanced position. It set me on a life of stretching. When I got to the age of fourteen I realised I wasn’t going to be a ballet dancer and moved to martial arts as they have similar warm-up routines. Since the age of 27 I have done yoga every week.

I was also lucky enough to attend a school with a swimming pool and had a couple of great teachers, so I have swum for as long as I can remember. Swimming is one of the safest exercises and helps strengthen the heart, the legs and back without excessive wear and tear on the hips and knees joints. It also makes me feel graceful in the water. My arms move freely and different muscles activated.

At the same time I was taught to ride an adapted bike and I still ride every week in the summer months with friends. I don’t ride in winter as my hands cannot grip through gloves.

I suffered with asthma from childhood into my early 40s, so had always avoided running. But after listening to a disability podcast by BBC Ouch featuring a lady who was told she could never run as her lungs wouldn’t take it, but with interval training had completed a marathon, I followed her example and learned to run short distances – a maximum of 3 kilometres. 5 kilometres always seemed beyond me but my coach and my husband managed to drag the distance out of me for two big disability events. Having to achieve longer distances takes the joy out of it for me. Generally I would rather do my varying sport and exercise for fun rather than enter events.

10 years ago I stumbled across a canoe with pedals not paddles by Hobie, I had watched from the shore as my family canoed each summer and was overjoyed that I could now join in.

At the age of 40 I took up skiing. I started in Whistler, Canada because they are really set up to help disabled people. Just two weeks there gave me firm foundations and lots of confidence. Skiing without poles involves a specific type of fitness. Training would start six weeks before the trip so my stomach muscles could get me off the floor should I fall, and my leg muscles were strong enough to move me along on the flat bits, I loved skiing but have taken the decision not to continue as I do not want to risk a broken limb at the age I am now. I also gave up dingy sailing two years ago, much as I love it I was getting too bruised and as I get older I recover more slowly from injury so I focus on activities that are less damaging.

I provide relief and succour to athletes taking part in local triathlons and the Welsh Ironman. At these events, when I am not working, I venture out to watch the athletes and marvel at their madness and determination. As you have read, I can swim, cycle and run, and so at the age of 53 I took part in the UK’s first inclusive mass-participation sports event Para Tri, which took place at Dorney Lake in Windsor. Every barrier that a disabled person could think of, (and believe me I tried), was removed where possible and every assistance was offered.

Personally, having had two falls a couple of years ago, I was aware that I needed to keep on top of my physical health. So when approached to do this event I thought it would be interesting to see what benefits it brought to me.

I decided to go all in and take on the longest of event, the Full Para Tri. I had seven weeks in which to learn to swim 750m on my front, to cycle 20k non-stop, and the worst thing for me – to run 5k. Cycling and running these longer distances I did get some nerve entrapment in my lower back and had to have physiotherapy and sport massage to halt the onset of sciatic pain but it was worth it.

The highlight was to see families and friends with and without disabilities working as a team and experiencing a sporting event together.

There is a new event this year in August run by Sophia Warner, which will provide a springboard for families and individuals to expand their sporting lives and give them confidence, health and abilities other arenas cannot provide.

For me, having any physical disability creates vulnerability and this increases the risk of having an accident or getting an injury. The value of exercise is perhaps more important to those without disabilities to protect long-term health and independence. Exercise and strength conditioning of muscles can increase strength, core stability and balance; by doing this it helps reduce physical vulnerability.

Find out more about Sue Kent by visiting her website at or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

If you have a story to share about how you get active then get in touch with us.

Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon Voucher :)

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham want to find out what you think about how information about physical activity and sport is presented to disabled people.

You can do this in your home. It would take in total about 15 minutes of your time.

The project

Disability Rights UK has partnered with University of Birmingham to conduct a study into how we produce knowledge and information about physical activity aimed at disabled people.

Our findings

Disability Rights UK has been working with partners in disabled people’s user led organisations to develop models of practice to support more disabled people to be active locally. The evidence we will gather from this research will help us to understand how disabled people want physical activity knowledge to be communicated.

Who should take part in the research?

We would like to hear from you…

  • If you consider yourself disabled and affected by one or more of the following impairments: amputation, spinal cord injury, restricted growth, Cerebral Palsy, visual impairment, hearing impairment
  • If you have been unable to take part regularly in physical activity or sport for a while
  • If you are over the age of 18

How to get involved

Get in touch with us if you are interested in taking part in our research and give us your name and the best way for the researcher to contact you. We will then arrange a time for you to take part in the researcher from your own home. Once your bit is done you will receive your £15 Amazon voucher. You may also randomly be selected to receive £100 Amazon Voucher!

Who to contact

Eva Jaarsma – Research Fellow at University of Birmingham


Read more about the partnership between Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham.

Today is World Skipping Day…Yay!!!

Friday 21 April 2017

Skipping is an activity some of us participated in when we were kids, but do you know you can still skip and have fun even as an adult?

According to the British Rope Skipping Association, 10 minutes of skipping can have the same health benefits as a 45-minute run. Skipping is a full body workout which uses your abdominal muscles to stabilise the body, your legs for jumping, and your shoulders and arms for turning the rope. So if skipping is accessible to you, why don’t you give it a go and have fun doing it? It is not expensive and does not require a large amount of space. Celebrate with other people skipping today and make it a habit. Get active get skipping!

For more information on skipping click here.

Visit our information in your local area page to find out how you can get active near you.

Walks for All comes to Trafford

Friday 21 April 2017

Walks for All is an exciting, new opportunity being run by Trafford Centre for Independent Living. Funded by Awards for All, the project will map the accessibility of a number of local walking routes, so that disabled people and those with a health condition can enjoy the outdoors, safe in the knowledge that their route will inform them of accessibility needs.

The initial idea for the Walks for All project was sparked by conversations with our members who wanted to improve fitness and wellbeing. Despite the number of established walking groups across the Trafford area, our members felt more comfortable attending the monthly health walks we were running, as they felt secure in the knowledge that the walks would suit their health needs. Their peers would understand if they needed to rest, or required the route to be wheelchair accessible. Our Walks for All maps will include important information such as the length of the walk, the location of benches and resting areas, as well as the location of toilets (including accessible bathrooms), cafes and other relevant information. Routes will also include information about accessible transport routes to the walking destinations too. These points have all stemmed from the requests of our members with regards to accessibility.

Our Walks for All project will see disabled people contribute in all aspects of this project – planning routes, identifying and recording accessibility, as well as contributing to the final design of the maps.

At the end of the project, we will have links available from our website and social media too, so that the accessible route information is available to all. Disabled people will be able to access the walks at a time and day that suits them, further promoting their independence and choice.

If you’d like to be involved, there are several ways you can take part:

  1. Share your ideas. Tell us where you like to walk so we can map the area and its accessibility.
  2. If you have a disability or health condition yourself, tell us what access needs are important to you.
  3. Come along on the walks and help us to map and photograph the route, using our equipment.
  4. Help us design the maps for our walking routes.
  5. Try out the walking routes for us.

You can find out more on the website or by contacting Jules on 0161 850 0645.

Read more about how nature-based interventions can play a role in improving mental health.

Disability Rights UK announces new chief executive

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Disability Rights UK has announced that Kamran Mallick will replaced Liz Sayce as chief executive of the charity, following her decision to retire.

Currently chief executive of Action on Disability, the Hammersmith-based disability organisation, Mallick has previously worked for the spinal injury charity Aspire as well as running his own business.

Commenting on his appointment, Mallick said:

“I am delighted to be joining the country’s foremost user led disabled people’s organisation at such an exciting stage in its development.  Disability Rights UK is working hard to expand its reach to all disabled people, and people with long term health conditions, and ensure it is their lived experiences which influence policy change.

“I am looking forward to working with the trustees and staff team and building on the organisation’s achievements to date.”

Find out more here.

Typhoo and EFDS tea-m up in 2017 to support disabled athletes

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Typhoo and the national charity the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) have teamed up again in 2017 to provide disabled athletes with more sporting opportunities to compete across England. It will be the third year that Typhoo will add an extra ‘OO’ to the National Junior Athletics Championships and nine regional qualifiers, aiming to increase the number of disabled people in athletics.

Every year 1400 disabled athletes take part in this particular athletics programme across England. In 2017, the tea company is brewing up again with EFDS’s events programme to ensure more disabled athletes have access to local and national competition.

Disabled athletes will be part of the regional qualifiers that lead to the Typhoo National Junior Athletics Championships climax on 1-2 July. Over 200 12-20 year olds will take part at Warwick Athletics Stadium, where spectators can spot future stars among competitors.

Somnath Saha, CEO of Typhoo Tea, said:

“Sports unites people and, at Typhoo, bringing communities together is an important part of what we do. Supporting the EFDS again this year, we look forward to providing more opportunities for young disabled people to compete at a high level as part of our ongoing Sports for All programme.”

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for EFDS, said:

“It is fantastic to be working with Typhoo for a third year. This is a much-loved programme and every year we enjoy seeing how many people get involved in this athletics programme, whether taking part or volunteering. Typhoo’s support means we can ensure more disabled people can reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.”

For over 25 years, the national event has provided thousands of young disabled athletes with the opportunity to develop their talent and compete against others from across the country. The full track and field programme means athletes with a wide range of impairments can take part- something, which many events do not regularly offer.

Many elite disabled athletes began their golden careers at the national event. Paralympians Hannah Cockroft, Hollie Arnold, Shelly Woods and Aled Davies were once junior participants who moved up the ranks to become world-class athletes.

Teams of dedicated volunteers deliver regional events, which drive the athletes’ ambition to qualify at the nationals. This makes it highly competitive for the team trophy at the national event. Also supporting the event is the Lions Club International, a long-term supporter of the junior athletics programme who continually give up their time and energy to raise funds.

Regional events begin in April across the English regions. More information about the Typhoo Regional and National Championships will be available on EFDS’s website. Find the regional events here.

Visit our information in your local area page to find out how you can get active near you.