Acro as a life skill

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My now six-year-old daughter was barely walking when her big brother first started hip hop classes with Megan and Pete. In fact, one of my favourite memories is watching her roll around the floor in her nappy and pj’s trying to copy the routine the class was learning. I wasn’t the only person laughing!

Five years later, she studies acro with her big sister and a bunch of other kids. Apparently, she can’t run very well; she kind of looks like a duck. The kids were all in fits of giggles during a recent class when she was trying to nail a running cartwheel –  they are pretty hard to do when you can’t run properly! She spent half the class sprinting from one side of the room to the other, practicing keeping her feet straight and not falling over, while the older students cheered her on. In another environment, she may have felt embarrassed but, in the safe space that is her acro class, her attitude was totally ‘I will learn to do this’.

 

 

“If they try and it doesn’t work, it’s OK. It’s just as OK as when it does work.”

OTS  kids can try anything without fear of being judged. They can speak up, have opinions, share their views and no-one will shout them down. Don’t get me wrong, they can be a verbal, opinionated and boisterous bunch, so there are clear rules in place – both for safety and respect – but they are constantly encouraged to be heard, to lead, and to try. If they try and it doesn’t work, it’s OK. It’s just as OK as when it does work.

Whether learning to run, handstand or master an aerial (the holy grail of every ten-year-old dancer), every student must first experience ‘failure’.  No-one likes to stuff up but, in the right environment, it’s a perfect opportunity to grow as a person. When they can’t do something, but keep trying, not only will they eventually master the skill they are working towards, they also discover an awful lot about themselves.

They find out what drives them to achieve. They learn how to be brave, and begin to understand how to face their fear of making mistakes. It can be really scary to try new things, especially in front of other people, but that’s something we all have to do throughout our lives. That’s why it’s so important that kids have a place where they can feel safe enough to learn how to deal with their nerves and anxiety. On top of this, when kids are encouraged to help and support each other, they also learn how to accept the reassurance, praise and inspiration other people give them.

 

“They reassure each other when they are struggling and share their happiness and excitement when they succeed.”

Acro is a class where students are taught acrobatic ‘tricks’ and cool dance moves, but it’s also a place where the kids work hard to achieve the results they strive for. They must be brave, committed and have faith in themselves and their teachers. In turn, they learn to be proud, not only of their own achievements but also those of their class mates. They reassure each other when they are struggling and share their happiness and excitement when they succeed. Megan and Pete give all their OTS kids a place to be, explore and create. More importantly, they give them a safe space to try, learn and grow.

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