Wembley-based charity Blue Ocean Waves Centre is fulfilling children’s artistic prowess irrespective of age and ability. They provide services like music, dance, drama, and art for people with and without disabilities or any other long term illnesses.
“Blue Ocean Waves will always be there to help the one’s who want to come up in life by showing their talents. With every single talent coming up we can fill this ocean. Just like every single drop of water counts.”
Maria Antonia Jolene Dias, Director of BOWC (pictured, left) highlights how her charity is bridging the inclusivity gap in the arts. “We cater to children, youth, adults and senior citizens – we don’t leave anybody out. Everybody is talented and creative. Normally, we say that the able community can do so many things. However, we reach out to the community that is neglected, or that doesn’t get enough opportunities in society. So we believe that when I say ‘every drop counts’ it means every talent of every person, based on whether they are disabled or not, is important to us. And we need to accept them just as they are.”
Jolene explains the importance of providing equal access to people of all abilities, “Inclusivity is very important because everyone needs to feel loved and accepted. For example, I myself am a person in a wheelchair – if I’m treated differently from any other person, definitely, I will feel low about myself. I will develop low self-esteem which I believe also happens with other children with similar disabilities. Therefore, we need to be accepted by mainstream society, just as how we are and not judged, based on any of the disabilities we have. It’s important to mention that there are various types of disabilities – it’s not only people in wheelchairs who are disabled.”
Inclusivity is a priority for BOWC throughout the organisation as they have recently been registered under the ‘Disability Confident Committed’ employer scheme opening up job opportunities for disabled people.
Children who are students at BOWC are inspired to pursue the arts full-time. To fulfil these goals, Jolene aims to have her students sit exams and open an examination centre for those with disabilities or long-term illnesses. Also, once permissible, BOWC plans to hold annual concerts and art exhibitions so that people with disabilities will get an opportunity to showcase their talents.
“Those who have joined BOWC have felt a family type of approach they have felt loved. They felt like ‘I’ve joined a family besides my own family.’ Yeah, yeah. I always like to encourage a family sort of an approach because we need to give utmost love to this kind of community.”
Jolene advises students to get a taste of playing the instrument before lessons at BOWC. “If someone is confident with their choice of instrument, then it’s fine, but if they’re unsure, before buying the instrument, I generally suggest that they go to a music store. For example, in our area, there’s the Wembley Music Centre, where you can try out instruments to see what you’re comfortable with. You may see a violinist or a guitarist on stage and it may look glamorous to you, but I tell them to not judge based on what you see on stage! See what you feel comfortable with.”
On goals for the future, Jolene hopes to expand BOWC outside of the arts to cater to all parts of the community. ”I intend to open a Blue Ocean Waves Cafe, where each and every employee will be disabled. I would also love to open a wheelchair accessible salon with facilities to carry the person to wash hair. I believe that this can cater not only to people with disabilities, but also to other people like pregnant women, or senior citizens who have limited mobility.”