A DANCE academy in the Dearne area has been helping children with difficult lives find confidence and boost their self-esteem.

The Phoenix Academy of Dance, based in Thurnscoe, is for children aged between six to 15 who put on performances and train youngsters who have troubled lives.

Volunteers push children to achieve their best, and each child supports one another as they develop their skills and confidence together.

Volunteer Susan Hill – who the children call ‘Mama Sue’ – said: “I just think what some of these kids have been through and achieved is amazing. All in all this group of youngsters were marginalised because of their situations. They came together under their dance teacher to form the dance academy and the transformation has been incredible. They have formed close bonds, learned the meaning of teamwork, have come into their own and now have goals and a feeling of self worth.

“All of this is achieved through their love of music and dance, and caring for others less fortunate.”

Susan has put the group forward for this year’s Young Champions, highlighting how many involved have triumphed over their difficult situations to look after one another and put on successful performances for the community.

“I manage the Rainbow Community Centre in Thurnscoe and they always offer to come along and help out,” Susan added. "Some of the older ones have what I would say is a normal life – if you can have one of those.

“They help with the younger ones and are so supportive, practising with them and helping them find the right shoes or costume. They’re marvellous kids – I’m so proud of them.”