Dancers get in the groove for charity fundraising gig

Oxford Mail: ance group Raw Diva in rehearsal for its Charity Showcase in aid of Mabel Prichard Special Needs school in Blackbird Leys.  Lisa Clarke right, blue tshirt, Jen Middleton, founder, front left ance group Raw Diva in rehearsal for its Charity Showcase in aid of Mabel Prichard Special Needs school in Blackbird Leys. Lisa Clarke right, blue tshirt, Jen Middleton, founder, front left

URBAN dancers are going from hip hop to hop scotch by hosting a performance to raise money for playground equipment for disabled children.

The Raw Diva dance company are putting on a charity show on Saturday, May 24 to collect funds for Mabel Prichard School, which cares for children with physical and mental disabilities.

The idea came from dancer Lisa Clarke, who is a teaching assistant at the school.

She said: “We like to do performances for charity. I work at the school, and I know and understand where the money will go and the value of it.

“We’re raising funds for the outside playground. It’s really shabby and needs a proper overhaul and big revamp.”

This is Raw Diva’s first ever performance, which will see the all-female group’s 15 dancers showing their contemporary dance moves, alongside comedians and singers.

Ms Clarke, 28, said: “We’ve been preparing for six months. This is the first time we’ve put on our own showcase.

“Normally we get asked to participate in other showcases put on by other people.”

The Blackbird Leys resident added that, if all goes well, this will become a regular fixture in the Raw Diva calendar.

She said: “We want to make this an annual thing and pick a different charity each year.”

Mabel Prichard school headteacher Jane Wallington said: “We need £20,000 for the playground and we currently have £1,600.

“We’ve done fundraising with Sainsbury’s, with events like gift wrapping and a sponsored cycle, and the church and members of the public have made donations.”

The funds will go for new equipment that will allow children in wheelchairs to take part in playtime.

Ms Wallington said: “Currently we have a roundabout which is more than 20 years old, and it doesn’t have provisions for children in wheelchairs. It needs to be open for them as well as able-bodied children.

“Similarly we need to get swings that children in wheelchairs can use without being taken out of the chair, like they have to at the moment.”

The school cannot afford to take any money out of its budget for the equipment, so any equipment will have to be funded through donations.

Ms Wallington said: “It might take six months, or it might take six years.

“It’s very, very expensive as anything to do with disabled children automatically doubles in price.

“Health and safety is very important because some of our children can’t do anything on their own.”

She praised Ms Clarke’s enthusiasm for the project: “I’m absolutely delighted our staff take their work seriously and they know the school only has limited funds.

“They try their best to help the children.”

The show will be at the Old Fire Station Theatre on George Street, and there will be performances at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10 and are available on 01865 305305 or oxfordplayhouse.com

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