The Cerebral Palsy Association of B.C. hosts a Surrey Dance program that continues to grow.
Traits such as confidence and self-esteem aren’t always easy to come by for those living with cerebral palsy. That’s why Denzil Muncherji, Recreation Programs Coordinator for the Cerebral Palsy Association of B.C. sees significant value in classes offered for those living with the condition.
The breadth of their programs has been growing across B.C. as well. There are now recreation programs in Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and Kelowna that bring a dose of fitness and a plethora of smiles for those who attend the classes.
“Our mantra is to have our programs be 100% free and inclusive,” Muncherji said. “We want to include as many people as possible, and we’re never going to turn anyone away based on money. We welcome siblings and caregivers to come along and participate in the programs with their loved ones. It builds confidence and self-esteem for these individuals in a fun, welcoming setting.”
One of the programs that Muncherji runs is the wildly successful Surrey Dance program. It has now turned into a program that runs almost all year around the clock.
“I’ve been involved for roughly eleven months with Surrey Dance, and I’ve personally seen the program grow quite a bit as well. It was good to see this past summer that our attendance kept growing and growing.
“The people I’ve met haven’t missed a single class. I had an eight-year-old girl come in and she comes in with sibling every time. Now, they’ve become a permanent part of the program.
“We get calls and emails all the time about the program. People are very interested about it, and thanks to the funding from SurreyCares, we’re actually able to run the program throughout the year. We need to pay for the rental space, equipment that we need, wonderful instructors, volunteers, and the grant from SurreyCares has certainly helped with that.”
While exercise is a clear positive for attendees of the program, Muncherji believes the magic of the program stems from something greater.
“On the one hand, you see that people are getting their weekly fitness in by doing yoga and dance. To me, what’s more valuable to look at is how much fun everyone is having. That’s true for all our programs, but particularly for Surrey Dance, they’re all getting to know each other really well. There’s lots of dancing and moving but also talking about summer plans and winter plans. I love being a part of the program and I try to go as much as I can.
“We also try to do a Halloween party and a Christmas party. It gives them a chance to sit and chat and be festive. That part helps with the inclusion of the program because that social aspect is what makes the program so great.”
Programs for all at CPABC
One aspect of CPABC that contributes to their program growth, is the inclusion of everyone no matter what their age is.
“We try to help literally people of all ages as much as we possible can. We have opportunity for joining as soon as those with cerebral palsy are born.
“I got a call asking if a two-year-old could join, and we said of course! With the right support, anyone can be a part of it. If they have cerebral palsy and need assistance, that’s what we’re here for.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, CPABC boasts some senior members as well.
“Our oldest member of the seniors’ group is about 74 years old,” Muncherji said. He has cerebral palsy and he’s a valued member of our mentorship programs.
The variety of individuals participating in programs, means that the programs themselves must be diverse. Aside from the Surrey Dance program, there are several other programs that CPABC is happy to promote.
Their newest program is a tango class, held for everyone from teens to seniors out in the North Shore.
“Everyone loved it so much that we’ve gotten several requests to run it more often,” said Muncherji.
Recreation classes in Victoria and Kelowna are also new for CPABC. The Vancouver Yoga program is also one of the most successful programs run by the organization. Aside from that, there are several youth support groups, senior support groups, and workshops where professionals speak about rights and responsibilities for cerebral palsy in the workplace.
How your donations can help
Muncherji notes that donations to CPABC can provide a boost to many different areas, depending on what the donor wants to support. That was even the case with the grant handed out by SurreyCares in 2018, which went solely to providing resources to the Surrey Dance program.
“We do ask if there’s a particular source that donors are more fond of. We start with that because often, they want to see a certain program grow.
“We are happy to use the donations any way we can. There’s always room for more money. We’re always trying to fundraise, we’re always looking for donations. Currently, we have an online auction, and we’re trying to get more fundraising in for Mother’s Day.”
Specifically, Muncherji wants to continue and grow the number of CPABC programs out in Surrey.
“My next goal is to create another program in Surrey. The population here is huge, and there are a lot of people with cerebral palsy here. A lot of them travel to Vancouver and they shouldn’t have to. One person comes from Port Moody to Vancouver for classes, but it’s directly on the Expo Line. As soon as you get children coming to a program, it’s hard because they can’t travel on their own. That’s something we really want to improve on moving forward.