Percussion workshops receive welcome funding boost

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Horsham Aiming High percussion workshops for children with disabilities have received a welcome and unexpected boost from pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd, based in Chertsey, Surrey.

Over the last four years, Horsham District Council has organised and helped run a broad range of quality inclusive sports and art activities for children with disabilities under the Aiming High/Reaching Higher programme.

The West Sussex funded activities include dance, table tennis, badminton, cricket, rebound therapy, film production, athletics, cycling, DJ workshops, and archery with wheelchair basketball coming soon.

Key within this range of activities is the Friday evening percussion sessions, Boom Tribe Reaching Higher, which lets participants explore and learn the lively rhythms of Brazilian samba.

The Olympic year turned out to be important for the group with several opportunities for them to team up with their parent group Boom Tribe, an integrated samba band formed in Horsham.

This is part of the Ahead of the Game Blue Touch Paper project, which saw the group perform at Brighton Festival, the Isle Of Wight Arts Parade, lead out Hackney Festival and to top it all off a performance in the Olympic Park during the Paralympics.

Helen Crooks, Horsham District Council’s Aiming Higher co-ordinator, said: “The percussion workshops have been one of the success stories of our programme with a real energy and sense of achievement in the group.

“The performance opportunities in 2012 let us achieve some amazing things with participants gaining confidence, self esteem and getting a real boost from performing, especially at the once in a life time opportunity at the Paralympics; after all who wants to practise every week and not perform?”

The challenge for 2013 was how to not only identify performance opportunities but also fund the costs for attending.

Helen added: “Boom Tribe is already lining up events that they can perform at this year.

“Because the support needs can be quite great for some of our participants we need to have additional funding to ensure that everybody is kept safe and they are properly cared for.

“Fortunately for us an opportunity came up for us to perform at the opening of the new Astellas Headquarters building and that led to an Astellas donation of £2,000 to support the future activities of the group.”

Ken Jones, president and chief executive officer at Astellas Pharma Europe said: “We are committed to helping improve the lives of people in our local community through activities such as volunteering days with local charities.

“The Boom Tribe energised and provided an incredible highlight to our office opening and we are delighted to be able to support some of their future activities.”

Horsham District Council’s cabinet member for a safer and healthier district Sue Rogers, said: “It’s fantastic that Astellas can make such a contribution to the Boom Tribe Reaching Higher programme.

“It is an area of work that Horsham District Council values highly and it makes a significant contribution to giving the participants the opportunity to perform at community events across the District.”

Boom Tribe Reaching Higher workshops for children with disabilities run every Friday from 4pm at QM Studios in Horsham.

The integrated Boom Tribe sessions are held on Tuesday evenings from 6:30pm at West Sussex County Council’s offices at County Hall North, Horsham.

For more information about any of the workshops call Nick Jenkins, community development officer at Horsham District Council, on 01403 215216 or email nick.jenkins@horsham.gov.uk