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Rachael Hurton

UK’s First Online Fitness Charity for People with Disabilities Celebrates 1st Anniversary

30 March 2021

 

UK’s first online fitness charity for people with disabilities celebrates 1stanniversary

It’s exactly a year since Synergy Dance Outreach, a Surrey-based charity providing free dance, yoga and meditation classes, took their classes online just days after the country went into the first national lockdown, enabling thousands of participants to continue to enjoy their activities.

The sessions, which are free of charge, thanks to funding from Sport England and The National Lottery, have now reached a national audience of up to 200,000 people of all ages with learning difficulties and physical disabilities, as well as the visually impaired and blind.

In total, Synergy Dance Outreach offers 200 online classes which are available on demand via an easily accessible online platform. They are tailored to suit each type of group. The platform includes courses for children, teens, adults and the elderly. They also have 200 online classes for the mainstream community.

The dance and yoga programmes are free for all ages including seated Para Stars Dance™ and ParaStars Yoga®, bespoke classes Synergy Audio Yoga™ and Synergy Audio Dance™ for the visually impaired and additional programmes for autism, cerebral palsy, and those with learning difficulties.  The charity recently won the national 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Award with the Sport and Recreation Alliance for their work in reaching the disability community.

A recent survey we conducted amongst our membership found that 78% of people with a disability, including the visually impaired, wouldn’t have exercised without Synergy’s online programme and 94% said they were happier and less anxious after doing the classes. The survey also found 67% of respondents reported an improvement in fitness levels and 92% want to continue the online programme when lockdown ends.

Synergy Dance Outreach now has more than 4,500 people with a disability or are wheelchair based who regularly take part in classes, as well as 3,675 participants with long term health conditions, 2,500 with special needs and autism, more than 450 with Cerebral Palsy and more than 1,500 who are visually impaired or blind.

Founder of Guildford-based Synergy Dance Outreach, Rachael Hurton, said: “By delivering courses online we are already reaching five times the usual number of participants.  In Surrey alone demand for our services has increased by 48% during the pandemic.  These classes are clearly filling an unmet need.

“We set up Synergy Dance® Outreach to create positive change, removing barriers to enable people experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing through accessible, inclusive and fun activities.

“We were determined lockdown would not stop us making a difference. Synergy pivoted fast to serve all our children, communities and service users. Within a matter of days into lockdown we launched our first online platform of courses for dance, yoga and meditation with courses for children, teens, adults and the elderly. We now have global interest and people can access our classes anywhere in the world. Now so many more people can join in the fun and improve their physical and mental health through exercise.

“We have come a long way in just 12 months but with sector accounting for 14 million people, there are so many more who we could reach out to.”

For more information on Synergy Dance® Outreach classes and how to register, visithttp://synergydanceoutreach.co.uk/ or click on http://synergydance.co.uk/

For a diverse range of inclusive classes click on:

https://inclusive-dance-yoga.teachable.com/

For Synergy Dance’s mainstream fitness classes click on:

https://synergy-dance-online.teachable.com/

 

For media enquiries contact Roz Hughes on 07967 800395 or email roz@rozhughes.com

Notes to editors:

 Synergy Dance®

Synergy Dance® provide innovative dance and yoga activities in schools and leisure centres, serving both mainstream and the special needs and disability community. At Synergy, no one is left behind.

Synergy Win the National Sport & Recreational Alliance Diversity and Inclusion Award

We are so excited to announce as founder that Synergy Dance are winners of the National Sport and Recreation Alliance Diversity and Inclusion Award. Thank you so much to Active IQ & Sport and Recreation Alliance, and to our incredible team of talent and supporters.
We are here to get previously inactive people active and improve their physical and mental health and through accessible and fun dance, fitness and yoga activities.
Thank you so much to all our friends, partners and supporters.
#inclusion #diversity #dance #yoga #togetherwecan

 

UK’s First Fully Inclusive Online Fitness Classes Available Free

UK’s first fully inclusive online fitness classes available free

Thanks to funding from Sport England and the National Lottery a UK charity is the first to offer free online dance and yoga classes for children, the elderly, people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities, as well as the visually impaired and blind.

In total, Synergy Dance Outreach offers 174 online classes which are available on demand via an easily accessible online platform. They are tailored to suit each type of group. The platform includes courses for children, teens, adults and the elderly.

The dance and yoga programmes are free for all ages including seated Para Stars Dance™ and ParaStars Yoga®, bespoke classes Synergy Audio Yoga™ and Synergy Audio Dance™ for the visually impaired and additional programmes for autism, cerebral palsy, and those with learning difficulties.

Founder of Guildford-based Synergy Dance Outreach, Rachael Hurton, said: “I set up Synergy to make a difference, having discovered a gap in the market for inclusive, fun dance activities which appealed to all. I had nowhere to send my little boy who wanted to learn breakdance or my little girl, who dreaded the pressure of ballet and tap and wanted to try new dance styles in a more relaxed setting.

“Inclusivity is vital to us. At Synergy no one is left behind.  We aim to ensure that neither finance, fitness, ability, disability nor family circumstance are barriers to participation.  We set up Synergy Dance® Outreach, the charity arm of Synergy, to meet local need and create positive change, removing barriers to enable people experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing through accessible, inclusive and fun dance, fitness, yoga, singing and related activities. Our beneficiaries include people with special educational needs, those who are visually impaired, the elderly and other disadvantaged people, children and young people.

“We were determined lockdown would not stop us making a difference. Synergy pivoted fast to serve all our children, communities and service users. Just four days into lockdown in March, we launched our first online platform of courses for dance, yoga and meditation with courses for children, teens, adults and the elderly. Thanks to funding from Children in Need we have been able to expand our online platforms for children and young people, creating an opportunity to reach a far wider audience. We now have global interest and people can access our classes anywhere in the world. Now so many more people can join in the fun and improve their physical and mental health through exercise.”

For more information on Synergy Dance® Outreach classes and how to register, visit http://synergydanceoutreach.co.uk/ or click on http://synergydance.co.uk/

For a diverse range of inclusive classes click on:

https://inclusive-dance-yoga.teachable.com/

For Synergy Dance’s mainstream fitness classes click on:

https://synergy-dance-online.teachable.com/

Ends

For media enquiries contact Roz Hughes on 07967 800395 or email roz@rozhughes.com

 

Notes to editors:

 

Synergy Dance®

Synergy Dance® provide innovative dance and yoga activities in schools and leisure centres, serving both mainstream and the special needs and disability community. At Synergy, no one is left behind.

Everyone Active & Synergy Dance® Partnership

Everyone Active partners with Synergy Dance to offer all-inclusive online platform supporting people with disabilities and special needs

As part of their growth in digital services, Everyone Active has partnered with Synergy Dance to offer people of all ages and abilities exclusive access to a specialised online platform.

The Synergy Dance service is aiming to keep the nation active through inclusive and fun activities that have been developed to support all individuals including people with physical and mental disabilities. The classes are suited to all abilities with activities ranging from seated yoga to audio recordings for the visually impaired and blind.

The service will be available for free to all Everyone Active members and new joiners. The partnership will see Everyone Active further expand their digital fitness offering which currently hosts a range of over 2,500 workouts and access to four leading fitness apps. The leisure operator’s on-demand service gives people an at-home solution to staying active and has helped tackle the nation’s rising levels of inactivity during lockdown periods.

Research from Activity Alliance’s Annual Survey revealed the additional constraints disabled people have faced during the pandemic. The figures showed that over 44% of disabled individuals felt they haven’t had the opportunity to be active. In comparison this figure was nearly half as prevalent in non-disabled people at 29%.

To access the free classes, customers will need to register at Synergy Dance and use the code “Everyone Active” after their name to gain access. For more information on the partnership and how to sign up, visit: https://www.everyoneactive.com/promotion/synergy/

Everyone Active’s Group Development Director Ben Beevers, said: “Over the past 11 months we’ve adapted our business to ensure we can fully support our customers and offer them the best online fitness services. Our latest partnership with Synergy Dance will ensure we can offer an extended range of inclusive activities to people of all abilities.

“Inclusivity remains at the core of the Everyone Active values and we’re delighted to support the brilliant work that the Synergy team are doing to offer a vast range of specialised activities. We look forward to offering this service to our members and seeing what is to come next from this exciting partnership.”

Rachael Hurton, Synergy Dance Outreach Founder & Director, said: “At Synergy we were determined lockdown would not stop us making a difference. We are proud to support inclusive activities for all children, teens, adults and the elderly. Like Everyone Active, we encourage everyone we come into contact with to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, at this time, via online training, up to five times per week.

Our Synergy courses are for all including Special Needs classes for Autism & Cerebral Palsy, audios for the Visually Impaired and Blind, seated classes for the Disability Community, those with Long Term Health Conditions and the elderly – offering much diversity and choice. Thanks to Everyone Active, so many more people can join in the fun and improve their physical and mental health through our online exercise programmes which can take place anywhere and at any time.”

Synergy Dance® Outreach have Partnered with Everyone Active!

Synergy Dance® Outreach provides innovative dance and yoga activities in schools and leisure centres, serving both mainstream and the special needs and disability community. Inclusivity is vital to us. At Synergy, no one is left behind and we are delighted to partner with Everyone Active to enable their members to experience inclusive online workouts for all.

At Synergy we were determined lockdown would not stop us making a difference. We are proud to support inclusive activities for all children, teens, adults and the elderly. Like Everyone Active, we encourage everyone we come into contact with to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, at this time, via online training, up to five times per week.

Our Synergy courses are for all including Special Needs classes for Autism & Cerebral Palsy, audios for the Visually Impaired and Blind, seated classes for the Disability Community, those with Long Term Health Conditions and the elderly – offering much diversity and choice. Thanks to Everyone Active, so many more people can join in the fun and improve their physical and mental health through our online exercise programmes which can take place anywhere and at any time.

 

ParaStars Dance – FREE Dance Parties Every Wednesday Throughout February!

As a result of the generous funding, we received from the Postcode Community Trust (see more here – http://synergydanceoutreach.co.uk/2021/01/15/postcode-community-trust-funding/) and the popularity of January’s, FREE Live Dance Parties, we have scheduled more that will take place every Wednesday at 6 pm throughout February!

 

So, let’s use our superhero powers to share and celebrate Kindness & Happiness as we dance to an upbeat playlist to leave you all feeling happy, loved and awesome. 

Jessie’s class is always super creative with a huge emphasis on having fun! 

 

So share with your friends and get ready for 45 minutes of fun-filled dance!

 

This Zoom session is a seated dance routine aimed at children with disabilities, SEN or long term health conditions, but, anyone can join in, log on and take part!

For more details, go to our event pages here:

 

February 3rd – https://fb.me/e/qd5WmgQ0i

February 10th – https://fb.me/e/3VQD9L5uG

February 17th – https://fb.me/e/5hzYUzxY7

February 24th – https://fb.me/e/3rLmIZRhi

 

We can’t wait to see you! 

Synergy Dance® Online Inclusive Classes – “Don’t Underestimate Seated Yoga!”

“Don’t underestimate seated yoga!”

Have you tried any of our at-home Dance or Yoga workouts yet? We currently have two online platforms that are home to a variety of inclusive classes.

Our Synergy Dance at Home Platform hosts the following courses:

Synergy Dance at Home for Juniors

Synergy Yoga & Meditation for Teens & Adults

Synergy Yoga at Home for Juniors

Yoga & Meditation for SEND Students

Synergy Audio Yoga & Meditation for VI & blind Students

Junior & Teen Dance at Home for SEND Students

Audio Dance for VI & Blind Students

Synergy Workshops & Masterclasses for Children & Teens

ParaStars Yoga for Children, Teens, Adults & Seniors

ParaStars Dance for Children, Teens, Adults & Seniors

Our Free Inclusive Dance and Yoga Platform hosts some additional courses, which are as follows:

ParaStars Yoga for Children (6 – 11 years)

ParaStars Yoga for Teens (12 – 18 years)

ParaStars yoga for Adults

ParaStars Yoga for Seniors

ParaStars Dance for Children (6 – 11 years)

ParaStars Dance for Teens (12 – 18 years)

ParaStars Dance for Adults

ParaStars Dance for Seniors

Synergy SEN Yoga for Children with Autism

Synergy SEN Yoga for Teens with Autism

Synergy SEN Yoga for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Synergy SEN Yoga for Teens with Cerebral Palsy

Synergy SEN Yoga for Adults with Learning Difficulties

Synergy SEN Dance for Adults with Learning Difficulties

Synergy Audio Dance for VI & Blind Children (6 – 11 years)

Synergy Audio Dance for VI & Blind Teens (12 – 18 years)

Synergy Audio Dance for VI & Blind Adults

Synergy Audio Yoga for VI & Blind Children (6 – 11 years)

Synergy Audio Yoga for VI & Blind Teens (12 – 18 years)

Synergy Audio Yoga for VI & Blind Adults & Seniors

Synergy Audio Meditation for VI & Blind Children (6 – 11 years)

Synergy Audio Meditation for VI & Blind Teens (12 – 18 years) 

 

If you haven’t had the chance to try any of our classes yet, please use the course links to go to the classes and get yourself enrolled.

To help you make your decision, and, hopefully, encourage you to sign up and join the Synergy family, here is an audio testimonial from one of our current users.

 

Synergy Dance® Outreach Receives Funding from the Postcode Community Trust

Synergy Dance® Outreach is extremely honoured, and excited to announce that we have received a grant from The Postcode Community Trust which is supported by players of The Postcode Lottery.

The Postcode Trust funding will be used to engage with & support many more people with SEND, and with those with long term health conditions.

Specialist SEND trained dance teachers will record fun 12 week Creative Dance programmes available for download on the Teachable Platform so participants can download videos & repeat as often as they wish, alone or with family members, friends, or carers.

It will also fund ParaStars DanceParty Live, a brand new and innovative weekly online dance event for 26 weeks to get inactive people active and responding to themes and requests from participants via our monitored ParaStars Dance Facebook Group.

 

We know from our partnership work with British Blind Sport what a buzz is created around the live events enabling participants to connect and feel a valued part of their community.

 

To join in our Live Dance Parties head to our Facebook Page, where we will share weekly event updates.

Dance Party Live Events:

December 22nd 5 pm (Christmas Dance Party): https://fb.me/e/YRYLPztV
January 13th at 6 pm (Space Adventure): https://fb.me/e/1UU4oGaxH
January 20th at 6 pm (Space Adventure): https://fb.me/e/11vQHXXy7
January 27th at 6 pm (Space Adventure): https://fb.me/e/4NycHuKVp

 

To participate and get involved with our online, inclusive classes you can enrol on our platform here:

https://synergy-dance-online.teachable.com

Synergy Dance® Online Inclusive Platform to Tackle Inequalities

Synergy Dance® Outreach (SDO) has been supported by EMD UK to develop and launch a national all-inclusive online platform offering free, easily accessible dance and yoga programmes for all ages.  The project, designed to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on activity levels of people from under-represented groups, was made possible by receiving funding of £17,000 from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund.  This amount was allocated from the £20m which had been assigned to the Tackling Inequalities Fund by the  National Lottery.

Founder of SDO, Rachael Hurton, is rightly proud of what they achieved in recording 174 online classes and keeping within budget.  She has written a guest blog for us to explain the vision behind it all and how they are transforming lives –

Synergy Dance® provide innovative dance and yoga activities in schools and leisure centres, serving both mainstream and the special needs and disability community. At Synergy, no one is left behind.

Synergy Dance® Outreach – the charity arm of Synergy – was set up to meet local need and create positive change, removing barriers to enable people experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing through accessible, inclusive and fun dance, fitness, yoga, singing and related activities. Our beneficiaries include older people, adults, those with special educational needs and other disadvantaged people, children and young people. Inclusivity is vital to us and we aim to ensure that neither finance, fitness, ability, disability nor family circumstance are barriers to participation.

When COVID-19 forced a national lockdown, here at Synergy, we carried on and did not stop in an effort to continue to reach our service users who needed our activities even more.  Funds were down, but that didn’t stop us, and we also wanted to keep our loyal team of talent in work and they all rose to the challenge of online delivery.

As weeks became months, and COVID-19 remained a high risk, I wanted to provide an all-inclusive online platform to host a diverse programme of online dance and yoga classes.  I wanted it to be something completely new to minimise the impact of coronavirus on the activity levels of people from under-represented groups, ensuring that the participation gaps did not widen during this period. I was keen to address inequalities in health and fitness uptake.

The lessons are new, fun, and tailored to each type of group. The platform includes courses for children, teens, adults and the elderly – who may choose from a wide range of activities and courses to keep fit, social and active for five main categories:

  • Special needs including autism and cerebral palsy
  • Visually impaired and blind
  • The disability community
  • Long term health conditions
  • The elderly

Our dance and yoga programmes are free for all ages via an easily accessible online platform. There is a variety of classes to choose from, including our bespoke brands seated Para Stars Dance™ and ParaStars Yoga®, and we innovated a new style of delivery with Synergy Audio Yoga™ and Synergy Audio Dance™.  We had already built a platform for mainstream activities, funded by Synergy mainstream, which reached global audiences during the first lockdown.

You can view a taster of our platform and vision, incorporating our #TogetherWeCan campaign, here: https://youtu.be/p9sX5iid5NI

With the rise of our audio content, a partnership with British Blind Sport soon followed, and Synergy now provide regular audio and live content for this wonderful charity and many others, who work so hard to provide a varied programme of activities for their members.

Why do we need home-based exercise?

Our home-based on-demand exercise is especially suitable for those with disabilities, special needs, long term health conditions or for health referrals, as transport, lack of mobility and low incomes can be a real barrier to taking part.

It’s widely accepted that obesity and inactivity are on the rise. In 2017, 30% of children aged 2 to 15 were overweight or obese and 65% of adults. Many children and adults are not getting their one hour of activity a day. On the mental health side, there are increasing numbers of children and young people with emotional and behavioural disorders – in 2017, one in eight children had at least one mental health disorder, hospitals seeing an increase in self-harm, depression and other mental health admissions and CAHMS referrals. Physical health is intrinsically linked to mental well-being.

What the stats say

Not everyone is suited to team or competitive sports. Disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people with 53% saying this is due to “no activities suitable for me” and 46% saying “fear of not being welcome or no suitable environment”.

  • For people with disabilities, according to the charity Scope, of the 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, 8% are children, 19% are working age adults, and 45% are of pension age. Put simply, nearly 1 in 5 has some form of disability.
  • For Visually Impaired people, RNIB 2020 sight loss data shows there are currently 2,140,000 people in the UK with sight loss (1,820,000 England), comprising
    • 283,000 with severe sight loss (blindness) (242,000 in England)
    • 477,000 with partial sight (406,000 in England)
    • 1,380,000 with mild sight loss (1,170,000 in England).
  • For the elderly: According to Age UK, there are 3 million people in the UK aged 60 and above– a figure set to pass the 20 million mark by 2030.

Reports suggest that loneliness and mental health issues are on the rise, which is no surprise given the necessary COVID-19 restrictions which have been enforced in the last year.  Synergy wanted to encourage suitable fitness opportunities for the aging population as we felt the participation gaps were likely to widen during this period – with care home and residential Outreach activities on pause.

Most of us can just go out to exercise – walking, running, cycling etc – to keep fit at the moment – but those who are chair bound or who lack mobility, are far more restricted at this time and many have to stay shielding at home.

Research also shows the inactivity problem is worse among people with low socioeconomic status and this results in health inequalities which cost the public purse. The aim of our platform was to provide easy to access activities, with many free courses to encourage sustainable health behaviour changes – all made possible with the funding from Sport England/National lottery and partnership with EMD UK.

What does the future hold?

Our platform was designed to use technology that will enable easy onboarding of members to train and work their way through our carefully designed programmes which were created in consultation with service users to meet the widest possible spectrum of needs.

We know already from feedback and our market research that there is a growing need for the inclusive services we deliver, and research shows this to commonly be the case nationally. Our new platform enables us to support a more diverse range of needs from long term health conditions to different age groups of wheelchair users, which will make a significant difference and resilience to fear, anxiety and isolation, which is likely to be at an all-time low. Diversity of delivery has always been my vision – hence the name – Synergy.

Both our online and face to face programmes can help reduce inactivity and the consequent cost to health and social care in the UK by providing fun, online activities to do at home or in communal, face to face settings. This will help reduce the financial burden on health and social care and provide great value for money.

Our platform of classes will continue to evolve and innovate on a monthly basis – to continue to provide the upbeat and inclusive classes to motivate our members to keep fit and keep going – in what has been an exceptional year for us all.

To find out more, become a Synergy teacher, join our training programme or to book a class visit our websites:

http://synergydanceoutreach.co.uk

http://synergydance.co.uk

For partnership enquiries please contact admin@synergydance.co.uk