Children across Bristol were given the chance to keep their dads on their toes – quite literally – this Halloween, as inclusive ballet school Flamingo Chicks launched its first ‘Dad Dancing: Ballet challenge’ on Saturday 28th October held at Bradbury Hall, Henleaze, Bristol.

52 Dads turned out to undergo a crash course in ballet which enabled them to channel their inner Darcy Bussell raising £3500 to support Flamingo Chicks’ mission to give children with disabilities and long-term illnesses the chance to enjoy dance alongside their friends. At the same time, the organisation provides a vital peer-to-peer support network for parents and carers, with a special focus on Dads.

Would-be ballerinos included firefighter dads, farmer dads and chef Dads who all tried their hands (or rather feet) at arabesques and assembles. You can view pics and download high res images here:

Supporting the fathers of disabled children

The Dad Dancing: Ballet Challenge event is part of Flamingo Chicks’ wider ‘Dad & Me’ campaign, which highlights the issues facing fathers of disabled children.

There are 770,000 dads in the UK who have a disabled child and frequently, they feel they are not getting the support they require. A Flamingo Chicks survey of 250 Dads found that 96% of fathers of disabled children agree that there is no emotional or mental support at work, which leads to why less than 10% have told their boss they have a disabled child for fear of impacting their career development. A third said they did not feel confident in their role as carer to a disabled child and 98% said they would like to access more support for them and their child.

Discussing the Dads Dancing event, Katie Sparkes, Founder of Flamingo Chicks, said: “Our Dads Dancing event was quite a spectacle with a brilliant turnout! It was fantastic to see the community come together and Dads supporting each other, making new friends and swapping tips for caring for a disabled child. Peer-to-peer support is so important.”

“Flamingo Chicks provides a supportive and inclusive community and we focus heavily on dads as they often get over-looked. We organise regular evening activities and we find often that physical activities have the biggest impact in breaking down barriers and encouraging dads to communicate. The Flamingo Chicks community for dads is strong but we also want to help shape the wider community too – for example, how our dads can be better supported at work”.

Phil Maclean, father of Poppy, aged 11 with Cerebral Palsy says “Since Flamingo Chicks I have taken up a more positive and sociable attitude. I have been able to handle stress and the pressures associated with caring for a disabled child better – it has enabled me to make new friends with other Dads going through the same thing.”

Gareth Jones, Dad to Mary, aged 8 adds “For many parents, Flamingo Chicks is their first opportunity to be part of a community that really values them and considers all of their needs. It has been great to meet with other dads through the social events that Flamingo Chicks offer. For me, Flamingo Chicks has redefined inclusion and the care, support and affection for the Flamingo Chicks and their families is truly amazing.”


Notes to Editors:

Since 2013, as well as providing ballet classes, Flamingo Chicks also runs a peer-to-peer support network for the parents and carers of disabled children, organising socials and other events.

In the last year, more than 2,000 children have taken part in a Flamingo Chicks class and groups have performed at high profile events at Downing Street and the UN in New York. The organization also works globally with projects in Ghana, Vietnam, Kenya and refugee camps in Greece.

Flamingo Chicks is passionate about encouraging intergenerational volunteering with 350+ volunteers aged 16-84.