DanceSyndrome's founder named on UK’s disability power list

Jen Blackwell of DanceSyndrome
Jen Blackwell of DanceSyndrome
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The founder of an inclusive dance charity which runs classes in the borough has been named as one of the most influential disabled people in the UK.


Jen Blackwell, the founder of DanceSyndrome - which hosts weekly dance sessions at The Rose Club in Hindley for people of all abilities - has been listed in this year’s Disability Power 100 List.

Jen Blackwell receiving her award

Jen Blackwell receiving her award

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The annual publication put together by The Shaw Trust names the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.

In 2018, more than 700 nominations were received for a place on the prestigious list.

Jen has been listed alongside actor Warwick Davies, comedian Adam Hills and co-host and former journalist Alex Brooker - who shot to fame after the Paralympics show, The Last Leg.

Jen, who has Down’s syndrome, set up her own charity in 2009 to prove that the condition wasn’t an obstacle to fulfilling her and other people’s ambitions.

“Dancing is my life,” she said after receiving the news. “I am passionate about dance and about supporting people like me to have opportunities in the dance world.

“Getting this recognition shows that people with learning disabilities can do amazing things with their lives if given a chance.

Not only does DanceSyndrome offer people the chance to dance in a social setting, but it also offers training for those who want to become dance leaders and teach their own classes.

Jen’s ethos is that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams.

Dancers with and without disabilities work together to inspire people to see what can be achieved when society becomes more inclusive.

Nick Bell, interim chief executive of Shaw Trust, a charity helping to transform the lives of young people and adults across the UK and internationally, said: “Congratulations to Jen. The judges were beyond impressed by the standard of nominations but selected the most influential people who are proving that disability or impairment is not a barrier to success.

“One of our aims for the Disability Power 100 list is to demonstrate to young people that they can achieve their ambitions.

“At Shaw Trust we work with government, local authorities and employers to support people overcome barriers which hold them back from achieving their potential.”

The Disability Power 100 List is compiled by an independent judging panel, chaired by Kate Nash.

Kate is the world’s leading authority in "networkology" - the science behind the growth of workplace networks and resource groups.

In 2007 she was awarded an OBE for services to disabled people and in 2013 she was appointed ambassador to Disability Rights UK.

The list was announced at a reception at the South Bank Centre in London.