“Even before the dance floor was opened, there was dancing,” Tracy Dodt laughs. “There were so many highlights before the participants even got to the ball.”
On 23 August, an excited group gathered at Belconnen Community Service (BCS) Centre for hair and makeup pampering and to collect their corsages for the big event that evening – the Winter Ball of 2019.
This year’s theme was a Masquerade ball.
“For some of the participants, they are lonely, so simply getting out of the house was a highlight,” Tracy, the organiser, says.
For others, the high point was coming in to BCS and having someone do their hair and makeup. CIT Floristry were there as well, tying on the participants’ corsages and pinning their buttonholes.
The dancing began in the Pink Party bus with its mirror ball, music and party vibe, as it drove the lively crowd to The Abbey Function Centre.
“The main highlight of the Winter Ball was to simply come out and enjoy a fabulous evening of fun with friends, family and carers and to feel valued and included,” Tracy stresses.
The Winter Ball’s masquerade theme utilized other courses within BCS, Tracy says.
“Our craft course and sewing course created the masks and our dance course practised a dance for the night. It really added to the excitement and set the vibe for the night.”
This is the second Winter Ball and the participants and staff at BCS foresee it becoming an annual event.
Belconnen Community Service’s Masquerade Ball provided local people who live with a disability the opportunity to get glammed up for an evening of dancing, masks and full hearts, and Genevieve Jacobs was there to share the excitement of the big night. Click play to hear from some of the participants and learn about how a community came together to make the occasion a joy-filled event.
Posted by The RiotACT on Sunday, September 1, 2019
Belconnen Community Centre offers a range of courses and weekly events for the community, providing mental health and disability services through to evening classes, fitness programs, aged care, childcare and transport.
BCS seeks feedback and consults regularly with its participants, in line with its person-centred approach.
“Our participants, living with a disability, indicated to us that they often felt excluded and isolated from community social events, especially large scale, formal events.”
Tracy explains how the idea of The Winter Ball came about. “My eldest daughter, Karla, was planning for her year 12 formal, later in the year. She has visited BCS on many occasions and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the people at your work had an end of year formal as well?'”
“I took Karla’s idea and our participant feedback along to our next BCS planning day. Together we developed the concept of the Winter Ball.
“The concept was put back to the participants who embraced the idea whole-heartedly and in 2018, we held our first ever Winter Ball. It was to be a one-off event but, as participants were leaving the Ball they were already talking about the next year so it is now an annual event.”
BCS is grateful to the many community groups that donated prizes, and provided pampering and transport services on the day. Emma Evans Cakes created an exquisite two-tier masquerade piece of edible art for the evening. CMA Make-up Academy donated their time and skill with makeup and CIT Floristry provided the corsages and buttonholes.
“An amazing group of community volunteers did all the hair styling on the day,” Tracy says.
Tracy says they are hoping to continue those connections.
“We had 100 participants this year, double the number from last year, but we still hear sometimes that it’s too expensive for some people to attend.
This really saddens us, when this event is all about inclusion. We want everyone to be able to participate.”
How can the community be involved?
“We would love ongoing sponsorships so we can keep this event’s cost to a minimum, so that everyone who wants to come can attend. We want to keep the ongoing support from the community. It is uplifting for everyone involved.”
“We all want to be seen, heard, valued and included. The success of the winter ball shows that being inclusive is not only achievable, it should be a desired goal by everyone organising a community event.”