By Melissa Meehan
If you were to walk past Phoenix Park Community Centre on a Tuesday afternoon you’re bound to hear a group of people having a toe-tapping good time.
And that’s because every Tuesday from 4.30pm the Chadstone/ East Malvern Rotary Club runs their Busy Feet program for children with an intellectual or physical disability.
Spokesman Lyle Chasemore said the program was run for children aged between six and 16 years old.
“It’s really great that these kids have their own hobby – their brothers and sisters might have footy training or dance rehearsal and now these kids who otherwise wouldn’t have anything of their own can come along and dance every week,” he said.
“And they can have fun while moving around and being stimulated by colour and music.”
The classes run for 45 minutes and are run by volunteers, who provide one-on-one support to each child taking part.
The Busy Feet program started in 2012 and provides many benefits for the children and their parents or carers.
It not only develops confidence and skills for the kids but it gives parents and carers time to relax while their children are in a safe space having fun.
“Initially they (the kids) are shy and quiet when they first join and then they burst in and say hi,” Mr Chasemore said.
“Other kids are non-verbal but you can see them light up when they arrive.”
Mr Chasemore said being involved in Busy Feet has provided him with great pride.
The thing that surprised him the most was being able to give parents and carers some respite.
“Parents know their kids are well looked after, and there is only one exit in and out,” he said.
“So the parents can relax, have a cup of tea and have a chat.
“Respite for the parents and carers is as important as providing something for the kids, I think.”
Stonnington Council provides an in kind grant so that the program can be held at the community centre.
Busy Feet has programs in Stonnington, Boroondara, Melton, Bayside, Hobsons Bay and Bendigo.
For more information visit www.busyfeet.org.au.