Strictly Schools: Strictly Amazing!

Leonard Cheshire Cymru’s disability dance competition, Strictly Schools, will complete its 2021 Season with an amazing ‘evening at the Ballet,’ broadcast on BBC1 Wales at 16.20 on Sunday 21 November as part of the BBC Children in Need Appeal show.

Strictly Schools winners meeting with the Ballet Cymru professional dancers in Newport

Delivered in partnership with Ballet Cymru, and funded by BBC Children in Need, the programme has reached over 500 children across Wales and culminated in a final which surpassed all expectations.

Strictly Schools 2021 was delivered via the dedication of passionate teachers and dancers, wanting to make a real difference in the lives of children living with a disability. Despite COVID restrictions, the project was delivered through a mix of on-line tutorials, live classes and face-to-face learning.

Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport said that:

“As Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport in Wales I’m privileged to experience some of the greatest art, cinema, music and dance that Wales has to offer. By representing your schools to such an incredibly high standard and getting to this stage of the competition, you have all embarked upon a journey that could one day see you at the top of your profession. May I take this opportunity to wish you all the very best, and keep on dancing!”

Louise Lloyd, responsible for access and outreach within Ballet Cymru said that:

“Ballet Cymru have loved being part of such a wonderful and uplifting project. It has been a pleasure to witness the growth in the skills and confidence of all those who took part and the joy that dancing brings them.”

In addition to learning new skills throughout the heats, and forging close relationships with their peers, participants gained huge amounts of confidence which will stay with them for life. Penny Watkins, Inclusion Coordinator at Caldicot School saw it as:

“a fantastic opportunity to work collaboratively with two amazing companies, on an inclusive project that develops the students in a holistic way.” She was amazed at the results, as was Rhoswen Rogers, Head of Inclusion at Caldicot School, who said that: “the project was engaging and exciting, Caldicot School have had a blast being involved in ‘Strictly Schools’ – so proud to be the winners and excited to take part again next year!”

Leonard Cheshire Cymru is committed to enabling access for everyone with any disability, to offer incredible experiences and learning opportunities that literally change lives. Strictly Schools 2021 did just that through fun experiences designed to build confidence, strengthen friendships, teach new skills and improve fitness and flexibility. 

Emma Wilcox from Leonard Cheshire Cymru said that:

“Delivering Strictly Schools has been empowering and inspiring from start to finish.  Seeing the young people discover their confidence as they coproduce their routines has increased their independence and belief that they can achieve anything they put their minds too.  This project uses dance to take young disabled people on a journey increasing their sense of self, enhancing their wellbeing whilst creating and developing friendships.” 

The four talented winners celebrated with a trip to the ballet in the Newport Live Riverfront Venue, and got to meet the dancers at a backstage party. Ieuan enjoyed taking part and wants to do it all over again next year, whilst it made Lily and Ella happy and proud. Ella summed up the whole ethos of the project as: “I felt ecstatic and happy when I was dancing.” 

Now this season has come to a close, we are recruiting schools across Wales for 2022 and have had a strong response so far. Your pupils don’t need any previous dance experience, just a desire to learn a new skill and enjoy a journey of discovery throughout the competition. Come and join in!

Contact for more information or to sign up to be part of next years project.