Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

Closing date for this current Grant Round is 31.08.2017 View Grant Dates

Main Menu Search

Case Study: e.motion21

ProjectEnhancing lives through collaboration and partnerships



ProgramArts and Culture

This grant was approved under our previous grants policy (Jan 2014 – March 2017)
Rural and regional Victoria Redress compounding disadvantage for young people with Down syndrome (DS); provide new opportunities in regional and rural Victoria.
Building capacity Pilot to establish social impact of a community centre structure in metropolitan Melbourne; then use as a sustainable model for regional and other communities.
Extending opportunity Deliver a unique opportunity for those aged 4 to 40 years with DS; reach 25% (1,000 people) of Victoria’s DS population by 2017.
Collaboration and partnership Pilot partners include YMCA, Deakin University, Boroondara Council and Down Syndrome Victoria.

This project meets the HMSTrust focus areas of fostering creativity to enrich lives, strengthening collective capacity and building collaborative cultural networks.

With a vision of enhancing lives and changing perceptions of Down syndrome (DS) within society, emotion.21 aims to ‘move bodies and boundaries’. A community-based not-for-profit organisation, it provides high quality dance and fitness programs that enhance the physical wellbeing and social connectedness of young people with DS. e.motion21 also challenges negative community perceptions that can result in discrimination and social barriers. Funding was sought to assess the social impact of partnerships with community leisure centres as a sustainable and replicable model.

Image Right on the ball and having fun: participants in an e.motion21 program

High quality dance and fitness programs which enhance the physical wellbeing and social connectedness of young people with DS are a critical building block for a positive life outlook and greater opportunities.

However, learning for people with DS (the most common intellectual disability in Australian children) is more difficult as IQ, speech, hearing and comprehension capability are often not at levels required by mainstream programs.

e.motion21’s program currently reaches about five per cent of the State’s 4000 people with DS. To help achieve its goal of reaching 25 per cent, funding was granted for a pilot program to assess the cost/benefits of community leisure centre partnerships. If successful, long-term sustainable partnerships could be developed throughout Victoria.

Project aims

These include:

  • Develop a partnership plan and methodology to utilise infrastructure, equipment and community relationships at leisure centres such as Kew YMCA.
  • Measure the social impact through research involving participants, families, volunteers, teachers and YMCA communities.
  • Use research outcomes to identify key factors underpinning social connection and awareness building for replication across Victoria.
  • Develop long-term sustainable partnerships with other community leisure centres.
  • Assist those with DS reach their full potential.
  • Change preconceived ideas about the abilities of people with DS.

“By promoting health and social inclusion through the arts and providing programs within local community centres, we aim to redress inequality in opportunities for young people with Down syndrome,” says e.motion21 CEO Cate Sayers.


“Through the generosity of the Trust, we are able to pilot a new delivery model to continue our work and expand our impact throughout Victoria” says e.motion21 CEO Cate Sayers.