Meet our #BeSuperAtRazz Hero
Meet Jessica Potter, age five and a half who is a student at Razzamataz Bristol South. Jessica loves all forms of performing arts, especially singing and taking on characters during the drama classes. Everyone who meets Jessica loves her, especially her teachers and Principal at Razzamataz who want her to be our #BeSuperAtRazz hero this month. Jessica adores Razz and all her teachers and has achieved so much since she started in July 2017.
Mum Laura says: “Jessica loves everything about Razzamataz. She adores singing and especially loves being around the teachers. She gets totally caught up with the imaginary world during drama and just shines when she is on stage.”
But life is not always easy for Jessica. She has cerebral palsy, which causes a range of difficulties including double incontinence and mobility issues. “Jessica is on lots of medication and has to have her bowel washed out every 12 hours. She is still young and full of confidence but as her mum, I was aware that her difficulties could cause her to retreat into her shell. I thought that performing arts would give her an outlet for her emotions and help her deal with the physiological impact of her condition.”
The first theatre school that Laura approached turned Jessica away because of her double incontinence. She then found Razzamataz Bristol South and spoke to the Principal Michaela Crumpton who welcomed Jessica and Laura and encouraged her to come along for a trial session.
“Michaela took her straight off to join in and immediately made us both feel so welcome,” says Laura. “I don’t really like asking for help with Jessica but the team at Razzamataz Bristol South could not do enough to make life easier for us. I’m still so emotional thinking of what they have done for her, it really flawed me when they told me what they wanted to do.”
During the summer, the students and staff were getting ready to perform at the Bristol Old Vic. Jessica was incredibly excited and couldn’t stop talking about it, but Laura felt that her challenges, especially being incontinent, would make it impossible for her to join in.
“Jen, her teacher, told me that she would change her and be with her at all times during the day. Michaela increased her wages to cover her extra responsibilities and both their kindness really took my breath away. I tried to pay Michaela extra, but she wouldn’t hear of it. When Jessica got up to sing This Is Me, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
The drama and especially the singing element of Razzamataz has been amazing for Jessica. She has an uncoordinated chew and swallow, which means she can only have soft and pureed foods. “Singing has been the best physiotherapy for her to keep her muscles moving,” says Laura. “She is learning where to put her tongue to help her with her phonics and even her school have noticed a huge improvement.”
While Jessica was in the Minis class, mum Laura would wait outside. However, Michaela felt that she was ready to move up to Juniors which would mean spending longer time in class. “I was really torn,” says Laura. On one hand I was delighted for Jessica, but I have a 15-month-old baby boy, so it is difficult to increase my time waiting at Razzamataz.”
Again, Michaela stepped in and said she would think of a way to help out. “Not in my wildest dreams, did I think she would come back with her suggestion. Her kindness and willingness to help my family has really touched me.”
Jessica’s positive and inspirational attitude to life has touched everyone at Razzamataz Bristol and Principal Michaela has awarded her a special scholarship in acknowledgment of her achievements. Michaela told Laura that she had arranged a scholarship for Jessica to attend Razzamataz because she felt that her disability allowance should be used on other resources for her. She is also in the process of applying to a charity for funding for a support worker for Jessica.
“Jessica is the shining light of our school and I’m so proud to be her Principal,” says Michaela. “Jessica and Laura deserve this scholarship and we love having them as part of our Razz Family.”
I’m so grateful to all the teachers and Michaela at Razzamataz Bristol South. Thank you will really never be enough.”
Being a student at Razzamataz means so much to Jessica and Laura and her progress has been incredible as Laura explains: “Her confidence has come on leaps and bounds; and she has a wonderful vocabulary which she loves to use. She is a natural born performer and Razzamataz is helping her discover who she is and showing her that no disability will stop her from achieving. I’m so grateful to all the teachers and Michaela at Razzamataz Bristol South. Thank you will really never be enough.”