She’s young, she’s keen, and she’s on a mission to open up a world of dance to people in need.

Takisha Lyons, 18, from Logan Reserve, is the co-founder of Diversity with Dance, a dance program knocking down social barriers to sport and employment in the fitness industry for people feeling marginalised through personal adversity.

Ms Takisha Lyons is this year’s Spirit of Logan Award winner for all her work on the program over the last 8 years, which started with a simple idea she had as a school student.

“I started having a mind that would wander through class when I was getting bullied, and I wanted to create a safe place,” Ms Lyons says.

Diversity with Dance Co-Founder, Takisha Lyons, 18

The bullying coupled with the challenge of coming to terms with her dyslexia diagnosis spurred her on to make a change in the lives of others.

“While I was getting bullied through school, it showed that no matter how big the problem is, you can still do things,” says Ms Takisha Lyons. “It’s just that the problem was small to me because I used that and passed it towards the community to help people.”

DwD aims to make dance accessible to everyone, but their primary focuses are communities in hardship, for example, people with disabilities, identity struggles, language and cultural barriers, or financial strain. They do this via a 5-pillar system, with each pillar cared for by one chosen staff member: 

  • Youth and community development pillar: Ms Takisha Lyons
  • Activating Mobility Pillar: Betty Sargeant, advocating for people with physical disabilities
  • Youth and women’s diversity engagement pillar: Sereen Kabbara
  • Diversity pillar: Gordenia Sagapolutele, advocating for LGBTQI involvement, particularly
  • Community services pillar: DwD Founder, Julie Lyons (Ms Takisha Lyons’ mother), looking after event coordination and strategic development

In the early stages of DwD, Ms Takisha Lyons gave the project creative direction, while her mother penned the technical details needed to get stakeholder support.

Pictured in the top back left, Betty Sargeant stands next to Takisha Lyons. Ms Sargeant was one of the first instructors train through the program

Multicultural Sports Club was the first major collaborator to back the idea, closely followed by the Queensland Multicultural Centre’s BEMAC who became a major sponsor.

“To be honest, it did take a while, and not many people took me seriously at the age I was,” says Ms Takisha Lyons.

The program also acts as a pathway breaking some of the barriers to employment in the fitness industry.

DwD does this through their mentorship program, which they offer to participants who show strong community service. Staff then train candidates to be paid dance instructors on the program.

Seeing how much people grow through that process, and the confidence they gain through the simple act of dancing, is what Ms Takisha Lyons finds most rewarding. 

“Mum and I went to mentor some people and I started crying with her because it really shows how far they’ve come and it makes us happy,” she says.

Outside of class times, DwD has a range of community outreach projects, taking dance to places such as hospices, hospitals, aged care villages, and schools.

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Diversity with Dance meets every Monday night between 6:30 and 7:45pm at PCYC Logan Central. The classes are $5 p/p – all entry fees help sponsor instructors. Contact Julie Lyons on 0488 275 025 for more information and to join in.

 

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