Max, Age 3, Leads Lockdown Lifeline for Other Infants


Max aged 3 was born with an extra copy of his 21st Chromosome, a condition more commonly known as Down syndrome. He is now the youngest Dance leader at DanceSyndrome. Here’s how that came about…

His Mum, Cristina blamed herself thinking it was her ‘old eggs’.

She has since learned that actually more young people have children with Down syndrome. Max’s mum was given some statistical information which didn’t really tell her what the future would actually hold for Max. She found out about lots of amazing people, models, inspirational speakers, people living into their 80’s, living independently, getting married, setting up their own businesses and charities which provide opportunities like Special Olympics, Down Syndrome Swimming GB & DanceSyndrome, who’s founder Jen actually has Down’s Syndrome herself.

Cristina was intrigued and wanted to find out more about DanceSyndrome and what they had to offer.

She learned that not only had the charity been founded by Jen with support from her parents, but they offer accredited training so that people with learning disabilities can become dance leaders and role models. This means sessions are co produced and led by people with learning disabilities alongside professional dance artists. DanceSyndrome also offers life changing performance opportunities, including at the Edinburgh Fringe, so that people with learning disabilities can become more visible in society.

When the Covid19 pandemic struck, DanceSyndrome started offering Youtube sessions and live Zoom sessions. Max loved dancing to the music but couldn’t quite keep up with all the more experienced dance leaders, so mum asked if there could be an infant session. This would be aimed at babies and younger children around Max’s age & Co-hosted by Diff-Ability, which was founded by Max’s Mum to create opportunities for people with Disabilities or Autism & their families.

“The trial went well with 16 people attending the first session”

Max enjoyed dancing along to the music and having his dance partner (mum) copy the movements that he decided would be best for each song. If we were in the jungle we might be monkeys, elephants or snakes. The Infant sessions have been great fun, providing youngsters with the opportunity to see one another, get moving and get those happy endorphins flowing. In fact they have been a bit of a lifeline for Mum and Max who have been, and continue to be, shielding. Cristina says “seeing the other children enjoying themselves with Max has kept me going.” Lockdown has been tough on us all, let’s keep dancing…


If you would like to find out more about DanceSyndrome please visit

For more details about DanceSyndrome Infants Zoom Sessions follow this link.…/DanceSyndrome/InfantZoom.html

A video clip of a Zoom session is available on YouTube:


For more information about DanceSyndrome, please contact Sarah Calderbank, Project Co-ordinator
on 07597 942494 or email

Twitter: @Dancesyndrome

DanceSyndrome was established in 2009 by Founder and Creative Director Jen Blackwell. Jen has Down syndrome and wanted to follow her dream of being a dancer and Dance Leader. The DanceSyndrome ethos is that everyone has the right to follow their own interests and passions,whether they have a disability or not. DanceSyndrome offer dance leadership opportunities to people with learning disabilities and empower them to co-lead high quality inclusive dance workshops which are delivered to disabled and non-disabled participants across the North West.

The hard work and innovative approach of DanceSyndrome Founder and Creative Director Jen Blackwell was recognised when she was chosen as the winner of the Inspirational Woman of the Year award at the Enterprise Vision Awards in September 2015. Jen was also included in the Shaw Trust Power 100 2018 & 2019 and was chosen as the recipient of the Prime Minister & Point of Light Award in October 2018.

DanceSyndrome was awarded the Queen & Award for Voluntary Service 2019.
DanceSyndrome & Dance Leader Team were recognised at a national level winning the People & Choice Award (2019) and Sporting Chance Award (2016) at The National Learning Disability and Autism Awards.

DanceSyndrome were awarded & Charity of the Year at the 2018 E3 Business Awards.

DanceSyndrome was recognised as Not-for-profit of the Year at the Red Rose Awards 2017


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