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Blog: Staying active has been the key to staying sane

During this uncertain time, Activity Alliance remains committed to ensuring disabled people can be and stay active. We are especially mindful that there will be even more disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, who feel isolated and less active. Our #StayInWorkOut blogs will explore the different ways disabled people are moving and staying active at home.

Grace smiling to camera dance certificate in hand. Rashmi, CEO of Step Change Studios is also standing beside her smiling to camera.

Activity Alliance is proud to support Sport England's Join the Movement campaign. It gives people fun and creative ideas on how to get active in and around their home.

There are many ways to continue enjoying an active lifestyle. This includes adapting activities so everyone in the household, disabled and non-disabled, can take part together, or on their own. We’ll be sharing ways people are making the most of their space and equipment at home.

This week, Grace tells us how Step Change Studio’s online dance sessions has helped her keep to a routine while in lockdown. These sessions are part of a wider programme enabling people with sight loss to be active, supported by the Mayor of London.

Grace's blog

Hi! My name is Grace Roach. I have had sight loss and multiple impairments since my late teens, following an accident.

I have never let this hold me back from what I want to achieve in life. Sometimes my impairments 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 visually impaired. I also provide information, advice and signpost individuals to appropriate agencies to support their needs. I always tell my patients that there is nothing that they cannot do.

Because of my pre-existing health conditions I have been shielding myself during this coronavirus period. I have stopped 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.

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 a part of me now.

I used to be very hard on myself when I first started dancing. But I have learned to just enjoy myself, to listen, and flow with the music. The first two weeks of the online classes were challenging as I wasn’t 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. It’s as if we were still face to face with each other. Even if only 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 keeping positive during lockdown. I have also realised that over the time I have been dancing, my commitment to being punctual has grown for the dance classes. This isn’t just for me but for the other members also.

My advice to other visually impaired people who want to try dancing but are nervous, is - 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. On Saturday mornings I look forward to the dance sessions. And then on Sundays I have a lay in.

We have achieved so much within our group: performing at a dance festival, passing an exam, developing friendships, and encouraging and being there for each other. As long as I can dance with Step Change Studios, whether online or in a class, I will be there!

Find out more about inclusive dance company Step Change Studios

Support on being active at home

If you are not as active as you would like to be or you know someone who isn't, visit our being active at home page to find a list of exercise advice, workouts, videos and activity guides for disabled people.

Join the movement and share your own experiences of being active:

Use the hashtag #StayInWorkOut on social media to share your accessible exercises 

Don't forget to tag in us on Twitter, find us at - @AllForActivity