With 25 years of personal family experience with disabilities, Alana Giaccio is passionate about contributing to inclusion support, equal rights and spreading kindness.
With the combination of Alana’s unwavering dedication to bringing people with disabilities together, and her desire to have a career that somehow incorporated the fun and creative world of dance, All Abilities Cheer and Dance was born.
Cheer and Dance school for people with disabilities and additional needs
AACD is the only cheer and dance school in South Australia to offer recreational, competition and online, all inclusive, all-ages cheerleading and dance classes, solely for people with all types of disabilities and additional needs.
We chat with Alana about how it all started and what parents can expect when enrolling their child in AACD.
Tell us about how All Abilities Cheer and Dance started?
Having two brothers with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability I’m passionate about equal rights for people with disabilities.
I always wanted my career to involve dance somehow. After I injured my back with a stress fracture in 2012, I didn’t think I could pursue a career in dance. Little did I know that I’d be opening a dance studio for people with disabilities! The experience of providing a service that doesn’t currently exist in South Australia is my biggest and proudest achievement to date. Growing up, I always knew there was a gap in the market, I just didn’t think I’d be the one filling it! Personally, I am proud to offer a unique sport to people who might not have had the chance before. I’m happy that more people can be included and I’m so delighted to see their parents joyous that their child can participate in something, make friends, develop new skills and have fun.
What can children and parents expect at a class?
Children can expect 45 minutes of fun dance games, warm up and cool down exercises with props, as well as a dance routine. Adults can expect 60 minutes of dance technique, flexibility exercises, and jazz, pom and hip hop routines. We have a viewing area in all of our classes and it’s wonderful to see the joy of the parents and Support Workers watching their loved ones participate in something that wasn’t accessible to them before. Most importantly, everyone can expect a safe and supportive environment.
What are the key benefits of dance and movement for children with disabilities?
Dance is a great way to build a person’s balance and proprioception, spatial awareness, visual stabilisation, musicality, teamwork, self-confidence and communication skills, all while making friends. I’ve been very involved in my brother’s lives and have helped with their development. Bringing those skills, I’ve learnt first-hand in my personal life to my dance business gives me great joy.
What are your future plans for All Abilities Cheer and Dance?
AACD offers workshops for schools, service providers and day option programs, as well as school holiday workshops. The future of AACD is to deliver these services to all disability-focused schools and programs in SA.
We also offer competition and performance opportunities. Being affiliated with Special Olympics Australia could put Adelaide residents on the national or international stage! Our goal is to one day compete at the International Cheer Union World Championship (ICU Worlds) in the Special Olympics section in Orlando, Florida.
You have a young team, how did you come together?
My team is a mix of amazing young women that all have personal experience with disability. It was super important for me to have a team of people that understand the needs of people with disabilities from a family perspective, as well as have dance experience. Majority of my team are women I’ve previously danced with for many years and created long-lasting friendships with. We are now all back together to create something meaningful, in-demand and genuine.