My name is Grace Roach I have had sight loss and multiple disabilities since my late teens following an accident.
I have never let this hold me back from what I have wanted to achieve in life. Sometimes my disabilities have had an impact on me doubting myself and asking: “Am I good enough”? I often hide because of this fear within.
I work as an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO). In my role I provide emotional and practical support for patients who are struggling with their vision. I also provide information, advice and sign post them to appropriate agencies to support their needs. I will always tell my patients that there is nothing that they cannot do.
During this period of coronavirus I have been shielding myself because of my pre-existing illnesses. I have stop counting the number of weeks I have been inside my house and not outside among the world. Shielding was very difficult at first as I really had to rely on others for what was happening beyond my front door. Once I accepted this fact, I was able to get on with working from home and trying to get some sort of schedule in place for myself.
Dancing has become part of me now
When I heard that Step Change Studios were running online dance sessions I just knew I had to sign up for them. I enjoyed the classes we were having in real life and by this time I was really missing them. Dancing has become part of me now.
When I first started dancing I used to be very hard on myself but I have learned to just enjoy myself, to listen, and flow with the music. I did find the first two weeks of the online classes challenging as I was not able to physically dance with people or to feel my way into the dance.
I do enjoy the online classes as I find that I am not putting so much pressure on myself. I get to connect with everyone and feel that precious warmth and kindness as if we were still face to face with each other – even for a brief time. It also gives me a routine to build into my week. My favourite dance is definitely the Samba I just love everything about this dance, the timing, the moments and the steps.
Dance is helping me through exercise, having fun and at this time of lockdown keeping positive. I have also realised that over the time I have been dancing my commitment to being punctual has grown for the dance classes – and not just for me but for the other members also.
You are never alone
If I were to give another visually impaired person advice about trying dance classes but might be nervous, I would say just have a go you are never alone! This is a really nice group to be involved with. It really does not matter what stage you join the group at. The dance teachers are always supportive and don’t worry – no one is looking at you.
I do believe staying active has been the key to staying sane during this pandemic. I get up every morning and do the same routine as if I were going to work; I have a lay in on a Sunday. On Saturday mornings I look forward to dance.
We have achieved so much within our group: performing at a festival, passing an exam, developing friendships, and encouraging and being there for each other. As long as I can dance, whether online or in a class I will be there!
For further details about inclusive dance company Step Change Studios visit: www.stepchangestudios.com or follow @Step_Change (Twitter), @stepchangstudios (Instagram).