Anna Kennedy is an inspirational figure. She is the mother of two sons, one with autism, one with Asperger Syndrome. That's tough enough on its own but, unable to find the right educational solution for her autistic son, she and her husband Sean fought endless bureaucracy, unfavourable odds and the need to raise a large sum of money and succeeded in founding their own school in London that could meet the needs of children like theirs.
The school, Hillingdon Manor School has since gone from strength to strength through Anna & Sean's hard work, determination and the unstoppable desire to turn no's into yes's when it came to their children's futures. It is now the largest facility for educating and supporting people of all ages with autism in Europe.
Anna has now developed a groundbreaking project, entitled "Step in the Right Direction". It features a dance DVD, tutorials and interviews, offering a clear insight into an autism spectrum condition (ASC). It's being launched at the British Institute of Learning Disabilities conference on Friday 4th November in Birmingam.
The initiative marks the fulfilment of a life-long dream for Anna, now a leading autism campaigner, as well as the director of the Hillingdon Manor School and founder of the charity Anna Kennedy online.com
Anna said, “Research and teaching experience shows us that autistic children need multiple types of stimulation to process information. Music and dance help the brain to organise itself. Hearing, listening, processing and repetition help children with autism build new learning pathways. We think this is a really fun and inventive way of connecting with and helping children develop coordination and flexibility and in the process build their confidence and improve their communication skills. With more and more young people affected by autism, I felt this was the right time to launch such a project.”
Produced in association with the world famous Pineapple Performing Arts School in London and the students from Hillingdon Manor School, the DVD features a special guest interview with Britain’s Got Talent finalist dancer James Hobley, plus the star of Sky 1 Pineapple Dance Studios, Andrew Stone. The DVD has already generated a huge amount of interest, particularly among parents, families and carers of those with autism.
Founder of the iconic Pineapple Dance studios Debbie Moore said: “This is a truly wonderful and highly imaginative dance production; a must-have DVD for parents, carers, mainstream and special schools, after-school and youth clubs.”
Every child is different but experts agree that early intervention helps with development and dance aids children with autism. The DVD’s carefully structured dance and exercise routines, ranging from freestyle to" poppin’, lockin’ and tuttin’", can also help them connect better with others.
Tutorials feature some of the country’s leading dance experts, including break-dance tutor Jade Flannagan and Pineapple Dance Foundation’s Maggie Paterson. They are designed to help young people develop co-ordination and flexibility, change rhythm and speed, level and direction, use varied dance and aerobic exercise sequences, identify parts of the body and stretch them, improvise dance and exercise movements to rhythms and participate in important cool down activities.
Priced at £7.99 + P&P the DVD (approx running time 100 mins) can be ordered at www.annakennedyonline.com