February 2016

The 45 Days To Find My Way group meet every week at ARC. The group consists of young dynamic learning disabled people keen to have a voice and show the world that they have great things to offer us culturally. The group are developing new skills in various art forms including photography, animation, film, and performing arts, and they are also planning how to meet some of their goals in life.

Surprise Stockton was a Valentine’s Weekend gift to the town of Stockton, presented on the High Street. The young people decided that they wanted to perform in public, to cheer peoples’ day, make people smile and show that disabled people don’t fit the stereotypical views we sometimes have.

It was such a joy to work on the development of this performance as the group knew exactly what they wanted their work to achieve. From the start, the group wanted to create something lively and eye-catching, and something that would be a real surprise for anyone who happened to be on the High Street on 13 February.

And so, on a cloudy day, with the threat of rain imminent, over one hundred people stopped to watch the group do their lively outdoor movement piece to the tune of Uptown Funk – there were smiles, laughter, and pride. And the sun came out, albeit briefly.


Leanne Walsh, who is a Community Bridge Builder from Stockton Borough Council based STEPs, and works regularly with the group said, “I felt so proud of the group, how they worked together and have become a real team”.

Lesley-Anne, a member of 45 Days, said, “It has built our confidence, and after the dance, I felt absolutely amazing”. Of performing in front of a large crowd, group member Sean said, “When we were dancing I noticed a big crowd watching us and filming. It was good to be part of the project. I felt that my voice was listened to and my ideas mattered.”

On the first day the group met after the performance the day was filled with memories and conversations about how the dance project had made them feel. But it wasn’t all just about looking back, as Ann from 45 Days told us, “Today we have just heard that we have been invited to perform our piece at the next Arctic Piranha Club Night at ARC on 2 April.” Can’t wait!