In a place far, far away… well, at Sherwood Neighbourhood Centre, a little bit of magic happens each Saturday afternoon.
Over the past year and a half, a group of classically trained ballet teachers with qualifications in Occupational Therapy and Health, Sport and Physical Education, have taught ballet to over 55 children with special needs.
The Tippy Toe Co. is a not-for-profit ballet school where toddlers, tweens and teens learn ballet and engage in activities specifically catering to their physical, social and emotional needs.
With small class sizes, The Tippy Toe Co. ensures each ballerina receives the individual attention they need, while also creating a warm group environment.
The most extraordinary part of this social enterprise, however, is that it began as a university assignment at UQ.
“There were no essays or exams with this course,” said Dr Lance Newey, coordinator of Business Management course, Social Entrepreneurship.
“Students were challenged through assessment to create a measurable social impact and that was their test.
“It’s testing not just whether students can think and read about social and financial impact, but can they do it.”
Zachary Fook (Bachelor of Business Management, ’14) teamed up with fellow student Mikayla Ivanov (Bachelor of Business Management, Bachelor of Communications, completing ’15) for the assignment, recruiting Royal Academy of Dance ballet teacher, Courtney Crack (Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education, ’14) as the Principal Teacher.
“They had to create something from nothing, that was their challenge,” said Dr Newey.
“The something they created is extraordinary.”
Since completing the assignment, The Tippy Toe Co. has seen student numbers more than double each year and now offers five 45-minute classes each Saturday, with classes tailored to the individual needs of each child.
Parents agree that The Tippy Toe Co. program offers fun activities that promote the development of their children, while also revelling in their own enjoyment of the classes each week as they watch their child dance, play and have the same opportunities as any other child.
“We’re a market,” said parent, Meredith Bray in an interview with The Today Show.
“How ridiculous that before The Tippy Toe Co. there was nowhere for my daughter to do ballet.”
As a Founder and the Principal Teacher, Ms Courtney Crack’s work at The Tippy Toe Co. was recognised by The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation QLD (ACHPER) in 2014 when she was awarded the Pre-Service Teacher Award shortly before graduating from The University of Queensland.
The award recognises the significant contribution made by a Queensland pre-service teacher who has completed consistent and outstanding professional experience, as well as promoting active and healthy lifestyles to the wider community.
"Through ballet, Courtney is able to help these children develop their motor skills and coordination, concentration, musicality, expression and creativity,” said Sue Monsen, Associate Lecturer in Pedagogy at the UQ School of Human Movement Studies
"The Tippy Toe Co occupies a 'magical' place in the lives of its pupils, and Courtney has helped fill a significant 'active and healthy' gap for these children.”
The Tippy Toe Co. was established as a not-for-profit organisation, with all revenue generated from classes and donations fed back into the company to cover the costs of equipment, wages and hall hire.
If you would like to support social entrepreneurship programs run by the UQ Business School, you can donate online. Once you have specified an amount, please select ‘Choose a Giving Destination’, then select ‘UQ Business School’ and choose ‘Other’ entering ‘social entrepreneurship’ into the details.
For more information or to talk about a gift, please contact BEL Faculty Advancement on +61 7 3346 0668 or email email@example.com.