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Two dance practitioners commissioned to deliver in-person and digital sessions for SEND kids at Huddersfield Literature Festival

Two dance practitioners have been commissioned by Huddersfield Literature Festival to deliver digital activity packs and an in-person creative session at Huddersfield Literature Festival next month.

Two dance practitioners have produced videos and downloadable activity packs for SEND families for the My Family Creates project, funded by Awards for All and commissioned by Huddersfield Literature Festival.

Salma Zaman and colleague, Nisha Lall, have worked together to create free online digital resources to encourage families with children with additional needs to play and create together.

Established in 2006, Huddersfield Literature Festival (HLF) is an award-winning 10-day festival held annually in March. A blended Festival of 50+ digital, outdoor, and venue-based events held online and at accessible spaces in Huddersfield.

Salma Zaman with her book, HELP! I Can’t Dance Without My Bhangra Pants.

Salma Zaman is a trained teacher in dance and drama, an SEN specialist, choreographer and fitness instructor, and the founder and artistic director of Salma’s Bollywood Academy (SBA).

Ms Zaman is also an award-winning author of four children’s books: Bollywood Princess; HELP! I Can’t Dance Without My Bhangra Pants, centred on her son, who has autism; Sally and her Super Snot; and Greedy Gertie, which features a cow who is a wheelchair user.

With Thom Craigen, she has produced an inspirational and representational activity book, I Can Do Anything Colouring Book, created to celebrate girls of different South Asian heritages and encourage them to consider a wide range of professions.

Nisha Lall is a qualified and experienced dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She is trained in Indian, Arabic, Latin and contemporary dance styles. She brings her background in multimedia to the project, filming and producing the digital resource.

Ms Zaman said: “My family creates is a project by myself and co-creator Nisha Lall that has been funded by the National Lottery that has been commissioned by Huddersfield Literature Festival.

“What we are doing is creating a digital resource for children with additional needs, focusing on South Asian children but it is available to all.

“Some of the stuff that we have been working on is around my book, Help! I Can’t Dance Without my Bhangra Pants. It is about a little boy, Amaan, who has autism, who wants to dance but he can’t as he keeps slipping and tripping, until he finds a pair of magical bhangra dance pants that help him to dance.

Nisha Lall, co-creator of the project.

“The dance trousers go missing and he has got to believe in his own magical ability to dance on stage in front of an audience. The book is about believing in your own magic.”

The award-winning author added: “We took the themes from the book to create the digital resources. The digital resources will feature an interactive story section.

“In the video, we will have Makaton, a language programme that uses signs together with speech and symbols, to enable people to communicate, in one of the other videos we will be doing a poem that focuses on different moods throughout the day, which will feature British Sign Language (BSL).”

The digital resource will be available in English and Punjabi, with the potential to film a version in Urdu.

“The resource aims to “create a package to encourage all families to show these videos and play and create with their children”, the dance instructor added.

“We are also offering workshops called the Inclusive Sensory Session Station as part of the literature festival. As part of that, we are featuring, dance, music, relaxation therapy, poetry, and hands-on resources.

“Creating things for children with additional needs is so important to me. I do a lot of work in SEND schools, and I find that there is a lack of resources for children with additional needs.

“We should not be shying away from children with additional needs, whether it is a mental or physical disability. All children have needs, some may have more than others, but we should celebrate all children, we shouldn’t treat them any different.”

The Inclusive Sensory Station Session is on Saturday, 19 March at the Piazza Shopping Centre in Huddersfield.

The session is a free afternoon of activities designed for children and young adults with additional needs, physical and mental disabilities (self-soothing calming areas available), led by Ms Zaman. T

he session will use words, movement, dance, and music to engage with participants and allow them to take part in teacher-led activities.

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