Deakin's innovative inclusion program ALLPlay has received a boost thanks to MECCA Brands' MECCA M-Power initiative, which aims to empower women and girls around the world by championing education, independence and entrepreneurship.
AllPlay - an initiative of the Deakin Child Study Centre - is a national project to enable children with developmental challenges, such as autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, language disorders and intellectual disabilities, to access sport and team activities.
MECCA M-Power will support School of Psychology senior research fellow Dr Tamara May in her work with ALLPlay Dance, a new program helping children of all abilities to join in at their local dance school.
Director of the Deakin Child Study Centre, and ALLPlay creator, Professor Nicole Rinehart said her team was working with universities internationally to spearhead a global approach to supporting girls with disabilities.
"This investment will help us think global and be global, and that's the exciting thing about this funding for us," Professor Rinehart said.
"The majority of research in this disability field is focussed on boys, because neurodevelopment disorders are more prevalent in boys than girls, but this means there are real gaps in our understanding of girls and their development.
"So this program is about more than just creating new pathways to dance for girls, it also allows us to put the spotlight on research for girls with disabilities."
Professor Rinehart said the funding, development and mentor support from MECCA M-Power would also empower her team as a group of women researchers.
"This program is all about women and empowerment so that's really exciting," she said.
"It can be really hard as a woman researcher. It’s a lot harder for working mothers to go and make those global connections that they need to take their research to the world stage.
"So this support is also about putting a spotlight on the research women are doing here at Deakin.
"Inclusion in all its forms is something we need to keep on the table and keep talking about until change starts happening."
Founder and co-CEO of MECCA Brands Jo Horgan praised the work of the ALLPlay team.
"Partnering with MECCA is an amazing opportunity to recognise the incredible researchers at Deakin University who are making great strides creating practical solutions, such as dance, for girls with developmental disabilities," Ms Horgan said.
"Their research, training and determination helps children and communities around the world live happier, healthier lives and look forward to a brighter future."
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