Young learning disabled group brought some surprise ‘Uptown Funk’ to Stockton

A group of dynamic young learning disabled people gathered in Stockton town centre to perform a ‘Surprise Stockton’ flash mob as part of their efforts to challenge negative perceptions around disability.

The energetic group surprised crowds of shoppers on a cloudy Saturday afternoon as they performed some impressive dance moves to Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk.

The group are part of a project called 45 Days to Find My Way which is based at ARC, and forms part of the larger Cultural Shift programme. The three year funding programme will help enable the group to take part in, organise and present to the world a range of arts-led activities. 

The young people decided that they wanted to perform to people of Stockton to cheer up their day, to make people smile and to show that disabled people don’t fit the stereotypical views that society sometimes creates.

The group have now been invited to perform the dance again at ARC’s upcoming Arctic Piranha event on 2 April. The event is a club night for young learning disabled adults, which is run and organised by members of 45 Days.

Lesley-Anne, a member of 45 Days, said: “It has built our confidence, and after the dance, I felt absolutely amazing”.

Another group member 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.”

Vici Wreford-Sinnott directed the choreography and is also Cultural Shift’s Disability Agent of Change, she commented: “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. 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!”

The aim of the Cultural Shift programme is to challenge negative perceptions around disability and to involve more disabled people in the arts at every level.