Caryn Walton-Binns, a Drama Kids franchisee whose dedication to diversity and inclusion is deeply rooted in her own experiences. Caryn’s daughter, diagnosed with autism at 22, found solace and support in Drama Kids from a young age, even before her diagnosis.

This journey fuelled Caryn’s drive to create inclusive spaces, especially when the opportunity arose to invest in the very school her daughter attended.

Now, 17 years on – seven of which as a teacher and now ten as Principal of Drama Kids York – Caryn has made it her mission to champion diversity and inclusion, drawing from her personal journey and the unwavering support of the Drama Kids brand.

“I’m a keen advocate for celebrating diversity in every way possible,” explains Caryn. “I think it’s something that I’ve been compelled to facilitate within my own franchise because of my daughter and her experience of receiving her diagnosis in her twenties. I’m proud that an understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders, including conditions like ADHD, is more prevalent than it was even ten years ago, when I took over as Principal of Drama Kids York.

“Our curriculum is adapted to reflect the need for a diverse programme, which makes everything run smoothly. One thing I always want parents and new students to know is that nobody has to do anything they don’t want to do. Our activities vary each week, but the curriculum’s consistent structure provides a sense of predictability for the children. This is especially beneficial for SEND and neurodiverse children, as well as those lacking in confidence. Having a routine promotes feelings of security and familiarity, making it easier for them to engage and thrive.” 

As well as implementing strategies to ensure each child, no matter their ability or self-confidence levels, can take part in their weekly session, Caryn has made it her mission to create a welcoming atmosphere that, in some cases, enhances the curriculum.

“In our academy, we have two children with Down’s syndrome. One of them, now in her early twenties, has been part of our class for 13 years. Despite the class being technically for up to 18-year-olds, we still welcome her to sessions because she still thoroughly enjoys it and gains a lot from the experience. We believe in inclusivity and ensuring that everyone who wants to be part of our community feels welcome and valued, regardless of age or any other factors. This has remained at the heart of Drama Kids York since the franchise was launched, providing a safe and inclusive space for my daughter when she was a student here, all those years ago. Providing a haven for children in my own community brings me a great sense of accomplishment. No matter how minor, I know my team and I are making a difference to children across the city.”

For Becky Goodfield, COO of Drama Kids, franchisees like Caryn make her proud to be at the forefront of the children’s services brand.

“Our business model is built around equipping children with the confidence they need to excel, regardless of ability. We’ve committed to delivering specialist training to our franchisees, along with ongoing resources and support with lesson plans that facilitates this – but it is people like Caryn that bring this to life. I’m always elated to see what she’s been up to with her students and how much she celebrates their diverse range of needs. Caryn is a testament to our success at Drama Kids – thank you to her for her ongoing commitment!”

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