MovementWorks has from the very beginning always grown organically. By this I mean nothing has been forced – we have grown free from artificiality!
From the seeds of a thesis, MovementWorks has developed as an educational tool valued both for assessment purposes and as an effective intervention. In just two years the Developmental Dance Movement Programme™ has become embedded in mainstream and specialist school settings with a number of research projects attached.
The project is fulfilling a real need; one that has arisen because of the impact of a number of environmental factors on our children today. Some of which we have come to understand as the lack of optimal movement opportunities many of our children now have. Some of which we are only starting to comprehend as we discover more about the neuroscientific foundations of learning theory. Some of which remain to be discovered such as the apparent increase of developmental disorders.
This year we’re excited to be developing our CPD training provision. Early Years improvement teams in London boroughs and the outer borders have recognized the value of the MovementWorks perspective and have asked us to share our knowledge with the sector’s educators. We’re also delighted to be reporting on the positive impact the Developmental Dance Programme™ is having on children with complex needs as we present this summer at the National Occupational Therapy Conference as well as at the Montessori Education for Autism conference.
Of course we require an expanding team to reflect this need and what better way to find the perfect trainee in waiting than on a train journey taken specifically with the objective to share MovementWorks research. I booked a seat on a Great Western train in order to meet up with my co-author to consolidate the writing of a related article. A young lady approached me “I hope you don’t mind” she said “ but I couldn’t help overhearing your discussion. I’m really really interested. Please tell me more…”
And so that’s how MovementWorks found our first intern in -train-ing! I’m delighted to introduce Megan Scarff’s first blog. It’s undoubtedly going to be no ordinary journey…
My MovementWorks Journey
By Megan Scarff
I am so excited to have embarked on an adventure with MovementWorks! What a privilege to be in a position where my academic and extracurricular passions have aligned.
Throughout my personal education I felt like I was having to battle it out between my ‘academic’ strengths and my ‘practical’ strengths. Even though I felt my academic and my practical strengths were intrinsically linked, society taught me that they were separate. Thankfully my experiences re-educated me. Even when I thought I had chosen ‘a more academic path’ in psychology (embarking on my degree at the university of Exeter), I soon realised my own snobbery when the best ‘real world’ applications of what psychology was teaching me (working with people with learning difficulties in the UK and overseas), were dependent on my creative skills. Yes, studying psychology had enriched my understanding of the challenges the people I was working with faced, but applying my creativity enabled me to best meet these challenges. I have always felt that if I wanted to follow my psychology degree with a career in child development, despite appreciating that my creative skills enriched my academic skills and vice versa, I would still have to choose which road to go down; A road leading to strict scientific practice, a strong grasp of the latest research and a less practical approach to working in child development, or, a road less scientifically informed and far more practical, ideally requiring lots of creativity. The MovementWorks Project appreciates the scientific, the highly practical and the creative, as strings in the same bow, allowing me to follow a unique, and I would argue long awaited path.
It was in January of this year that my MovementWorks journey began. Like many of my peers in the September of 2014, I found myself confused and anxious about how I was going to put my degree to best use. I felt strongly that my combination of skills lended themselves to working with children, but the aforementioned battle between a practical or academic continuation of my studies plagued me. It was in the midst of this battle that I met Ali or rather overheard Ali talking about fragments of something that sounded like my dream organisation. The decision to cheekily admit that I had zoned into her conversation and find out more had amazing consequences. A few months later I found myself moving to London, taking up a job with a cheeky and lovely child with Down’s Syndrome and embracing every opportunity the city presents itself with as I was offered the chance to be MovementsWorks’ new intern!
Some key things that have struck me about the MovementWorks programme so far include the positive environment Ali creates. It’s refreshing to be a part of something educational that is not bound by ridged expectations and targets. The children are always made to feel encouraged by any efforts and progress they have made. A related element I have enjoyed about MovementWorks is the fact it displays such inclusive practice. Each child is made an active participant in the session, which clearly boosts their confidence and makes them more ready and willing to participate. The combined elements of inclusive practice and a motivational climate results in a real sense of equality within the sessions.
So there is a little bit about me and my MovementWorks journey so far. I’m looking forward to learning more and continuing along the path I hadn’t thought possible!