Workshop facilitator, Laura Sarah Dowdall, combines her skills as a professional dancer, healing yoga and movement facilitator to create customised workshops for people with learning, motor and sensory impairments.

Her research, practice and approach focuses on moving with mindful awareness of our body, environment, mental and emotional state. She is passionate about promoting awareness of the role and significance of the senses, particularly the sense of touch to those who have all sensory facilities available to them.

Laura has a warm empowering facilitation style that encourages creativity and individuality amongst the students (both residents and support/care workers) in her movement workshops. Laura provides movement based weekly classes, workshops and staff retreat days.

How Movement for Wellbeing supports Organisational Goals:

Workshops aims are specific to each organisation and are discussed in-depth prior to the programme’s start, key elements include:

  1. Creating a safe space for residents and support staff to feel at ease to explore movement potential within their own body and experience its associated positive benefits
  2. Learn to find new joy and appreciation of the body beyond its pure functional and protective purpose in everyday living
  3. To teach movement practices that participants individually or collectively can engage in and sustain after the programme completion

Movement for Wellbeing and Dance Ability activities may include:

  • Somatic awareness of how each part of the body moves
  • Creative expression using tactile references, symbols or known actions such as the movement of swimming in water, the wobbling of jelly
  • Tactile sensation and rhythm through the use of their hands, feet, body, sounding of their voice, use of music vibration from speakers or percussive instruments
  • Soothing Breath-Work, Mindful Movement and Tension Release exercises
  • Games to relax muscles and develop understanding of posture and techniques for self-care
  • Self Expression through free movement exercises
  • Haptic Communication as applied to dance and as a key support outside of the “classroom”
  • Body balancing and cross body exercises to improve co-ordination, dexterity and balance

Objectives:
– Develop increased body-awareness through mindful movement
– Improve spacial awareness: of themselves, environment, relationship to others around them
– Strengthen core muscles, improve posture, weight placement and balance
– Introduce movement that encourages creativity
– Value the unique expression of each individual
– Create an opportunity for social engagement, collaboration and team-work
– Use movement practices as an outlet for stress or emotion
– Enable self-management and empowerment of personal wellbeing
– Enjoyed dance independently and as a shared activity

Outcomes:
Participants have the opportunity to share their class learning with family and friends of the centre through a demonstration or performance in the final week of the programme if deemed beneficial and suitable by the facilitator, participant group, helpers and management team

Evaluation:
• A logbook of the dancers engagement each class will be kept to monitor each person’s personal progress, creative confidence, new learning and level of comfort as the weeks progress
• Evaluation and feedback may also be possible through assessments by the organisations positive behaviour support team

Please contact Laura to arrange a trial class for your community group:

Phone: 087-9633229
Email: laura@healingyoga.ie
Web: www.healingyoga.ie

Here is a video of a UK based dance company working in a similar approach to Laura with a deafblind community group:

Testimonial from Anne Sullivan Centre for Deafblind

“There is a sense of group collaboration with each person receiving individual interaction and attention from Laura and and responding by participating in their own individual way. This can be by following a suggested movement or improvising their own individual movement response . It can also be Laura following a person’s movement and showing them she is nearby and has acknowledged their movement.

I have seen Service users appear relaxed, smiling as they move and express themselves. I have also seen a service user improvise a dance and show a sense of pride and awareness that what they did was their own creation.
After most recent class I observed service users dancing fully right til the end, moving, participating, smiling and support staff smiling. All written reports that day highlighted enjoyment, participation and smiling. This good form was noted to continue throughout the day.

Laura has sought advice about each persons preferred means of communication and has made to efforts to learn these so she can  communicate  aspects of the class using sign language, tactile signing, swell paper symbols and objects of reference.

Laura has sought feedback from keyworker’s after each class and surveyed same on ways to find what out what is working well and  ways to enhance the enjoyment of attendees. I am aware that the class has raised awareness among keyworkers about some service users enjoyment and talents for movement and dance . This can in turn help keyworkers and service users share a positive experience and communication and should encourage them to offer more movement based opportunities and activities.”

  • Steve, Support Worker Co-ordinator, ASC

“Laura has done some amazing work with our centre and I look forward to working with her again!

Laura, really made an effort to connect with the residents and adapt the class to their individual needs. I could see that the residents really responded to Laura and trusted her.”

  • Heather, Training & Innovation Manager, ASC

Laura will teach at DeafBlind Awareness Day this June!