Daisy-May Webster’s love for dance is every bit as infectious as mum Gail says. The 12-year-old has barely finished her street dance class but excitedly tells me how she can’t wait to get home and practice even more.
It doesn’t matter it’s been a long day for the duo, who take four hours out of their day every Monday to travel from their home in Roydon, Diss, to The Garage, and back.
“It’s 100% worth every minute. If I could bring her here every night, I would. You’ve been a lifeline for us. The Garage is a place where she can do what ‘normal’ children do. A place where I feel she’s really protected, really looked after,” says Gail.
She found out about us while chatting to another parent at a SEND gymnastics group.
“I was quite hesitant because I’d taken Daisy-May to another dance school that didn’t work out. It really knocked her confidence. She’d got to a point where she couldn’t communicate to me why, but she wouldn’t walk through the door.
“We came here, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a little slower, if you’ve got special needs, if you’re the best dancer in the world or the worst. You roll on that stage together. That’s what I absolutely love about The Garage.
“Every single tutor and support worker has celebrated and helped her. They’ve been brilliant. I’ve never had to go ‘by the way, can you…’ or ‘actually, can she…’ or try to explain her disability. That’s why I can see Daisy-May coming here into adulthood.”
Daisy-May started in one of our SEND groups before moving into an open class.
“Your SEND stuff is excellent. Yes, Daisy-May’s comprehension is limited, but she’s got real talent. She just needed someone who’d let it show [despite her challenges]. Once I explained music was her life, that it’s how she communicates and releases her emotions, you guys were fabulous.”
Gail had no idea Daisy-May had additional needs until her daughter missed milestones other children her age didn’t.
“She has the vocabulary and the cognitive ability of a five-six-year-old. She can’t read at all, she can’t write. Little letters, she could probably spell her name if you asked her to, but it’s very hit and miss. But she can remember song lyrics like that [snaps fingers]. You can put anything on the radio, and she’ll know the words to it. Or she’ll learn them in a ridiculously small space of time.
“From the moment she started moving, she danced. I’ve got videos of her at Butlin’s at three, and she’s got natural ability. I haven’t. My husband hasn’t. She gets home from school, goes upstairs, puts Alexa on and listens to music until she goes to bed.”
Having a child that couldn’t talk to her, couldn’t understand anything anyone said to her, was tough.
“I was desperate to fast forward 10 years and see what was going to come of Daisy-May… She’s going to have these obstacles in all other areas of her life… But the other month she was in a flash mob in Chapelfield next to a lady who must’ve been in her 60s. I thought ‘look at this, it’s brilliant, there are no barriers’.
“It takes a long time to accept, to process, having a child that’s always going to be a child. My long-term aim is for her to have an independent life where she’s so happy and content – and that has to include the arts.
“Most parents of 12-year-olds are thinking high school options. I’m just pleased she’s doing something she loves, and I’ve met some lovely people along the way too. Some who have become lifelong friends.
“Daisy-May lives for Mondays. She lives for dancing. She has learned so much here too. It’s all confidence, she’ll break into dance and song anywhere. It’s great seeing people walk past you and you know she’s made them smile. When I see her on stage, it’s the biggest thing ever. In that moment [because of The Garage] she’s everything she should be.”
If you’re or anyone you know is inspired by Daisy-May and wants to follow in her dance steps, take a look at our range of autumn classes which start 11 September.
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