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“My son is my inspiration”

“My son is my inspiration”

Charlotte Foxley is diddi dance’s North Essex and South Suffolk franchisee

I own and run diddi dance North Essex and South Suffolk, which offers funky preschool dance for boys and girls aged from 18 months to 4.5 years. I also run classes for children aged up to 14 with additional needs or disabilities. I love what I do and don’t stop too often.

I’m married with two gorgeous boys. My eldest has a rare genetic disorder called STXBP1. He has a significant learning disability coupled with autism and attends a special needs school.

BRINGING OUT THE BEST

I’ve used my own personal experience and skills learnt to be able to adapt our sessions for my special needs classes. When I joined diddi dance four years ago, I was determined to have classes for special needs children. I wanted the focus to be on what the children need and for parents to be relaxed and not worry about what might happen in a class situation. I adapt the sessions myself, but still use all our diddi dance music, simple routines, exercises and props to bring out the best in the children who attend.

“I didn’t realise just how much fun it would be - from the dancing to the serious business side”

Because of my situation, I needed a job that could work around family life, but also provide the freedom to make something for myself. After looking at franchise options and thinking about what I would like to do, I came across diddi dance, while also looking for an activity to try with my youngest son, then age two. The business looked fantastic It doesn’t feel like work, as I didn’t realise just how much fun it would be - from the dancing to the serious business side. It is hard work, but it fits with my life.

MAKING DANCE MORE ACCESSIBLE

My son with additional needs is my inspiration for wanting to open diddi dance for special needs children. My goal was to make dance more accessible to all children, especially those with disabilities, since I have experienced first-hand how difficult it is to find things for disabled children to do that also allows siblings to participate in as well.

Since starting my business, I have received accreditations through the Exercise Movement Dance Partnership and reached silver level with the Children’s Activity Association, demonstrating that I have all my policies, health and safety and procedures in place to offer a safe environment for parents to bring their children along to.

PROUD OF MYSELF

This year I was awarded Woman Franchisee of the Year 2019 at the prestigious Encouraging Women into Franchising Awards, which was an honour and a highlight of my career so far. I was proud of myself and what it meant to my family and the children I work with.

Anne-Marie Martin, the founder of diddi dance, has supported me 100 per cent in the development of my special needs classes. I know I have her full backing and encouragement to explore and develop this side of our business to help other franchisees.

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