Today marks the International Day of People Living with a Disability, every year the first week of December is put aside with the aim to increase awareness, understanding and acceptance of those in our community living with disability.
Celebrating this week is Alstonvilles Little Dragons Integrated Group, it is the regions unfunded arts community group that provides creative opportunities for people of all ages living with disabilities.
The groups director Suzanne Whiteman of Alstonville Dance Studio was lucky to receive a $1,000 micro-grant from Arts Northern Rivers and has joined forces with Byron Film maker – Andy Bambach from In Your Face Productions to produce a little Film. The film Covid Cacks – tells the story of the groups post-Covid experiences and how they adapted their practice after the lockdown to creating work outside in nature.
During the lockdown the groups home Alstonville Dance Studio (fondly known as Cacksville) was broken into and vandalised, thousands of dollars of damage occurred and the studio is still in disrepair. Whiteman had previously held many workshops at her farm on the Blackwall Range and was well aware of the benefits of getting out in the natural world for people with a disability so in response to the situation she moved workshops to her farm and also to the Serpentine (Beach) in East Ballina, which has been a great success.
The film also looks at the challenges faced by people living with disabilities during the recent corona crisis here on the Northern Rivers their response and their resilience through a mixture of creative workshops in dance, creative arts, drama, poetry and spoken word held outside in nature. It also focuses on sharing and healing and showcases the groups recovery through the arts. Here they are last Saturday, out dancing at the Serpentine (East Ballina) when they recruited a new member – one of Ballina’s beautiful pelicans, yet another amazing experience for the group, captured on film by Andy Bambach.
The Little Dragons will be at the Serpentine again this Sunday, 6 December and the extended community is invited to join in on the fun, – all ages and abilities welcome – to celebrate the end of the International Week of People Living with a Disability. Disability Arts make a unique contribution through storytelling and engagement here in the Northern Rivers and Whiteman and Bambach hope to be able to raise funds to caption and audio describe the film to create access to all in their disability community if you are interested in assisting in their journey or getting involved – contact Suzanne Whiteman on 0428 748 294 or email: [email protected]