Since 2017, at the age of 12, Alice has loved all things Strictly Come Dancing - the Glitter Ball, Musicals week, Blackpool and even Craig Revel Horwood!
There was a particular dance from that year that became a favourite – danced by celebrity Gemma Atkinson and professional dancer Aljaž Škorjanec, Alice still talks about it every day.
Back in 2018 I faced a problem, how to help Alice understand why Aljaž would have a new dance partner in the next series, and her beloved Gemma would not be in the show. So, with Alice’s help I developed a ‘Match the Dance Partners’ Makaton Symbol Resource.
Making this resource each year has become our favourite activity!
As soon as the new celebrities are announced we make a resource with their Strictly announcement photo and a Makaton Symbols to show what they are famous for/what they do e.g. Actor, Olympian, TV presenter, Singer etc.
Alice enjoys getting to know the celebrities and guessing who they might be partnered. By the time launch night arrives, Alice is ready with glue stick in hand to permanently match the celebrities to their professional dance partners.
With permissions from The Makaton Charity, we started to share this resource on Alice’s #StrictlySigning webpage and were astounded that this year it was downloaded a record 683 times.
Alongside the downloads Alice began to receive messages about how fabulous the resource was, helping Strictly fans engage with the launch show and supporting memory and understanding after watching the show. We were thrilled that our resource was helping others, and it encouraged us to share of our Strictly resources.
Each week Alice and I make a new score sheet and update records of the previous weeks scores and elimination – these are all shared on Alice’s #StrictlySigning webpage. To see a simple idea support and benefit so many others is A-MAZ-ING!
What about the Signing?!
Of course, Alice’s Strictly engagement is not limited to Makaton Symbols but Makaton Signs too. Alice continues to campaign each year for more awareness of signing on mainstream TV, and this year’s response has been exceptional.
Alice makes video messages that we tweet to all the celebrities and professionals encouraging them to sign ‘Thank You’ and ‘Hello not Goodbye’ at the start of the show. Alice has seen support from Makaton Tutors and other inclusion heroes who have supported her bid. We are sure you have noticed the record number of thank yous signed each week: FAB-U-LOUS!
This year thanks to help from Alice’s friend Harry (whose Mum is Makaton Tutor Jemma Sagar), Amy Dowden and Tom Fletcher have signed Hello every week this series.
Of course this year has seen a rise awareness thanks the East Enders Actress Rose Ayling-Ellis who is deaf and a British Sign Language (BSL) user.
We believe that all signing awareness should be celebrated, respecting different ways in which we communicate is essential in an inclusive world.
As living rooms across the UK fell silent for a few moments during week 7 of Strictly when Rose and Giovanni danced their couple choice’s. Mid performance the music stopped and they continued to dance in silence, you may have reached for a tissue – moved by the moment and experience.
I glanced at Alice – absorbed by the dance – not even realising the music had stopped because to her the sudden loss of sound is nothing new or unexpected.
The judge Motsi said:
"In this case, I honestly feel like saying thank you. I think this was such a beautiful moment to include us in your world and for us to actually understand how important and how aware we all could be of each other genuinely everywhere. This was so special. Sometimes it's more than just marks and scores and dancing, sometimes it's just a moment."
We can all be better by having experienced that moment, respectful, kinder. More inclusive.
Alice and I can’t wait to see who will hold the Glitter Ball this year! #keepdancing #keepsigning
Visit https://inclusiveteachingmatters.com/strictlysigning/ to download the symbol resource.