Dancing, Riding and Running Towards Community Inclusion

July 8, 2024
Community and Inclusion
By Kindred
Tracey Athletics 2

Tracey is a Mum to five children aged between 7 and 27 years old. She shares how she supported her youngest daughter Aubrey, who has Down Syndrome, to explore activities, including dancing, horse riding, swimming, Little Athletics and Scouts.  Which lead to friendships and connections in the community.

Our view has always been that Aubrey should have the same opportunities as her siblings, who have all been very engaged in the local community through just about every activity that you can think of. So Aubrey has had lots of amazing role models to show her what she’s capable of in life.

First Steps

We originally started Aubrey in Kindergym, thinking that it would be good for her physio. But we soon realised that Aubrey wasn’t really that interested in gymnastics. She was actually more interested in just dancing in front of the speakers at the front of the room. So we had a think and a look around our local community, and we came across a local dance studio that ran a play-based dance program for preschoolers called Ready Set Dance. We gave that a go, and from the first session, Aubrey absolutely loved it!

We’ve worked closely with the dance school to make sure that Aubrey has the right support. We were fortunate that the owner had the view that all children should have the opportunity to participate in whatever capacity they’re able to. The school put in place a program to train senior dancers to teach them the skills to become teachers. As part of this, one of the student teacher’s roles was to support Aubrey. And she has just been phenomenal. She’s been there with Aubrey every week over the last three years, and she also steps in to supports with her toileting when she needs to.

Building on Success

From dancing, we decided to try Little Athletics. This journey was a little bit bumpier. I tried to get Aubrey into a club very close to home, but when I reached out, I wasn’t actually able to talk to anyone about the program or how they could support Aubrey’s needs. I’d learnt that having open lines of communication was really important, so I decided to cut our losses. I went onto Facebook and found another local club and within 10 minutes, I was speaking to the President, who said that there was absolutely no reason why Aubrey shouldn’t come down and give it a go.

At Little Athletics, Aubrey is just one of the kids. Everybody down there gives her the encouragement she needs. Aubrey does her best, and the focus is on beating her personal best. Each week she has another go, and she gets a little bit faster or she jumps a little bit further. She’s learning amazing skills, and it’s great physio. Plus, she’s out there with her friends, being engaged in the community.

Following in Family Footsteps

By this stage, we had a pretty full schedule, however, we are a scouting family, with Aubrey’s three older siblings all having taken part. So we had a look around our local area to see what Scout groups we could make work with Aubrey’s timetable and would also be a good fit for her. We found a Joey’s group about 25 minutes away. Which she loves and she is accepted as ‘just Aubrey’.

We are still on a toileting journey with Aubrey, so I decided to sign up as a parent helper. That way, I can help out the group, and if needed, support Aubrey. There are times when we’ve used support workers to work with Aubrey in some environments, so we can just be parents on the sidelines. But I’m also really happy to get involved, in the same way I’ve done for my other kids, whose teams I’ve managed or coached in the past. And honestly, I get just as much out of going to Joey’s as Aubrey does. We went on a camp together recently, and it was a great weekend. We went canoeing and other fun stuff. And it’s just so great to see her thriving.

Aubrey gets invited to all the birthday parties, along with all the other little girls. And it’s not just the connection that has been important for Aubrey, it’s also broadened our circle as a family. We’ve built quite a few friendships with other families as well.

Vista Print Count Me In Guide 2


Copy to clipboard