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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13267

Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (10:36): On Friday night I had the privilege of attending the Peppermint Dance Company showcase. Peppermint Dance Company is a local business and a great example of individuals coming together to benefit the community. Peppermint began as a hobby for director Nadia Schimmel. While she was studying at university she continued and it grew very quickly. Nadia's classes were drawing in people from across my local community for regular dance lessons across 10 different styles of dance. Since humble beginnings in a local school hall, Peppermint has grown to a dance company with around 250 students.

Friday night was Peppermint's fourth annual showcase of the dance work of its students. The showcase was a spectacular display of dance with dancers of all ages. The highlight of the evening was hearing the stories behind the dancers and the dances. I was struck by the story of mums who had joined Peppermint to share a common interest with their children who were learning to dance. One mum told me, 'It was great to do something for myself that is part of a team.' This mum had never had the courage to dance before. I can tell you that, watching her dance, she no longer lacks confidence.

I was also impressed by a group of Peppermint dance students who call themselves Art in Movement. Art in Movement is a group of Thornlie Senior High School students who were, up until a few months ago, disaffected and struggling at school. One of these students, Ryan Bell, came to Peppermint to take on a work experience placement. The partnership between Peppermint and Ryan was a success and Ryan continued volunteering at Peppermint long after his official work placement had concluded. The commitment that Ryan demonstrated to his work experience placement at Peppermint helped Peppermint and the teachers at his school realise that a program between Peppermint and the Thornlie Senior High School was a valuable way to help young students engage with school. It was through this revelation that Art in Movement was born.

As Peppermint's Nadia told me, Art In Movement is a group of nine students from Thornlie Senior High School who came to Peppermint completely disengaged from school. These students had all but given up on high school, with an average of just 30 per cent class attendance. Peppermint embarked on a program to allow these students the opportunity to take dance classes as part of their high school curriculum. The only catch was they had to continue with their attendance for their other classes. As Nadia told me on Friday night, the turnaround in these students is remarkable. The general school attendance has risen from 30 to 90 per cent and their academic performance has reflected their increase in attendance. For the first time, these students have found their niche and are engaging in their schooling.

We know that sometimes education cannot always follow a formula or a script. Some students need different opportunities. Art in Movement and the fantastic work that Peppermint Dance Company does in my community are examples of this. I offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to Nadia and the Peppermint dance teachers for their commitment to helping young people enjoy dance and engage in education.