How Dance Group AwA (Atypical with Attitude) Break Down Barriers
AwA are ambassadors of the SEND community. Through the power of dance, AwA aims to break down barriers to inclusivity and integration, changing perceptions and stereotypes with the goal to change the way the world looks at disability. Through hard work, discipline, perseverance and dedication, the AwA dance team has improved the lives and opportunities for many living with challenges. The core ethos of our dance team is having the right attitude toward life. Stereotypes and perceptions will only be broken and changed through hard work and diligence. As pioneers within the dance community, AwA has proven time and time again that those who live with disabilities and challenges are more than capable of achieving the same as their mainstream counterparts.
When the dance team was first made we made a core decision that would affect and influence everything that we do. Without working just as hard as our mainstream counterparts, we would never change the way people view disabilities and truly see what we are capable of. Every time we perform on the stage, no matter the size or arena, hours and hours of endless hard work and dedication has taken place.
Through this ethos and methodology, AwA created a unique and inspiring team that went on to achieve many milestones for the SEND community. AwA appeared on the BBC’s The Greatest Dancer which reached the views of millions of people around the world, pushing the agenda that we are capable of much more than the world tells us. AwA were the first special needs team to ever qualify and compete at the UDO European Championships in 2018, representing the UK. Not only did we break down barriers to integration and inclusivity, we also ranked 2nd overall in our category making huge history as the first ever SEN team to do so.
A year later we were the first special needs team to ever qualify and compete at the UDO World Championships in 2019, representing the UK and ranking 3rd overall in our category. As a result of our achievements we were blessed and privileged enough to appear on many different news platforms to continue spreading our message. Platforms such as BBC, London Live, Sky and Channel 5.
A member of AwA states how being a part of the dance group has changed their life:
I used to be ashamed of my autism. I used to think it was a detriment to myself and those around me. The world taught me that there was something wrong with me, that I was broken and needed to be fixed. I couldn’t understand why I was being told that “who I was” was wrong. When I joined AwA, everything changed. My autism turned into my superpower!
Everywhere we went, every performance we attended and arena we participated in, people were inspired and amazed to see us do the same things as everyone else. I could see it in their eyes, their perceptions of the ability of those with “disabilities”, was shattered and rearranged within 4 minutes of watching us dance. That feeling empowered me so much. It gave me the fire and strength to continue on the path we were on and work even harder. If I didn’t have autism, I wouldn’t be in this amazing family of friends that I call my team. I used to be ashamed of my autism, now I am proud of it.
Within the mainstream dance community in the UK, AwA is now widely recognised. We are regularly invited to perform and participate in many mainstream dominated environments as ambassadors of the SEND community. Also, we have hosted our own inclusive fundraisers to give platforms and opportunities to other members of the SEND community. Our other achievements include performing at the national school games summit, winning the first ever Para Dance in 2019. For two years in a row we have been granted mainstage performances at Move It exhibition, the UK’s largest dance exhibition as well as opened the Dance Awards UK show on behalf of DejaVu entertainment. We have also been invited to perform overseas such as the Best Buddies Conference in Indiana USA in 2019.
AwA has and will continue to maintain a professional approach towards the art of dance and challenging perceptions. We are open to all, include all and accommodate anyone and everyone. Our doors will always be open to others who wish to join our mission and spread the message of inclusivity and integration. We pride ourselves on equality and humility in everything that we do.
For more information on AwA, visit their Facebook page to keep up to date with their latest dance routines and achievements: https://www.facebook.com/atypicalwithattitude/
If you or someone you know has autism and would benefit from using a sensory room, then please contact Redbank House. Alternatively, if you have a disability and are looking to receive some advice about services or equipment, contact Disabled Living today!