The objective of our campaign is to eliminate stigmas surrounding individuals with special needs by normalizing their involvement in society and highlighting their abilities through dance. By focusing on people-first language and inclusionary practices, our program aims to both empower and integrate our dancers into their community. Through our social media campaign, we have created a more engaged, educated audience. Our efforts are intended to ultimalty change the perspective that society has about the ability of indaviduals with special needs.
We began our campaign by surveying our audience to understand perceptions about individuals with special needs. The survey results were astounding:
85.7% of the Divas and Dudes audience believe that society views individuals with special needs as incapable
53.6% of people believe there are few fair opportunities for individuals with special needs and 39.3% believe there are never fair opportunities for individuals with special needs. Even people who have had no experience working with individuals with special needs believes society views them as incapable and that there is lack of opportunity
32% of people who had experience working with people with special needs viewed any time spent with them as service hours
35.7% of those surveyed acknowledged avoiding individuals with special needs.
57.1% of those surveyed acknowledged that they typically talk to someone who is disabled as a child or as if they would not understand typical communication
60.7% of those surveyed had never heard of people first language
80% of those surveyed personally believe that individuals with special needs are capable when given proper opportunity
50% believe that a fully inclusive society is viable
Because of these results, we set out to create a social media plan that highlighted our dancers, demonstrated their capabilities, and showed them interacting both amongst themselves and in their community. By normalizing these interactions, we were able to reduce the stigma surrounding individuals with special needs. Dancing Divas and Dudes is not only for our dancer, it is for our community. When the dancers participate in our program, they develop self-confidence. When they perform out in the community, the community gains understanding of their capabilities and we move towards a more inclusive community.
By planning and executing fundraisers, and sponsorships our Executive Director was able to increase the budget by 437.5%.
Not only did this growth accommodate current students, it has created the space for the organization to continue to grow by 266% participation over the next 5 years.
Total Facebook page views up 420%
Feedback received from community members that interacted with our dancers:
"The Dancing Divas and Dudes gives participants an opportunity for friendship, fun, and challenges."
"They encourage people to change their expectations or thoughts of those with special needs."
"They are making an amazing impact by giving people with special needs an opportunity to express themselves and grow."
"They are making a difference because at the same time that they are spreading awareness about the abilities of those with special needs, they are also giving individuals with special needs an outlet to express themselves and feel a sense of community."
"The Divas and Dudes are involving people with disabilities and incorporating their talents into society."
"Offering those with special needs to have somewhere they can go and be surrounded with others that won’t judge them or treat them differently. "
Dancing Divas and Dudes is giving people an opportunity to be a part of a team and have an experience that they often wouldn’t be able to have due to society’s lack of options for people with special needs. Our mission has encouraged more team environments to become avaialble to indaviduals with special needs.
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