The 25-year-old, who triumphed at the I Love MCR Awards, shares her journey from shielding during COVID-19 to becoming a Zumba instructor and aims to inspire others with disabilities.
Discovering Zumba During Lockdown
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Hannah faced the daunting prospect of shielding due to her condition.
In her own words, she recalls, “During Covid-19, I had to shield because of having Down Syndrome.
My mental health suffered because I have always been active and could no longer pursue my Special Olympics sports or do my volunteering.”
The isolation took a toll on her well-being, and she found herself searching for a lifeline.
That lifeline came in the form of online Zumba classes run by Emma Golpys.
As Hannah explains, “I then discovered Zumba online which was run by Emma Golpys and it changed my life.”
The dance fitness program not only became an awesome way to stay fit but also was hugely enjoyable for her too.
Turning a Dream into Reality
Encouraged by her Zumba instructor, Emma, Hannah’s dream of becoming a fitness instructor started to take shape.
As live Zumba classes resumed after the pandemic, Hannah continued attending classes led by Emma.
It was during this time that her passion for Zumba flourished, and with the encouragement of her instructor, Emma, she set her sights on a new goal.
“She encouraged me to become a Zumba instructor myself,” says Hannah, and this marked the beginning of her journey from student to licensed instructor.
In the autumn of 2021, Hannah achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing her Zumba and Zumba Gold instructor courses and earning her licenses.
Her journey reflects not only personal growth but also a determination to share the happiness she found in Zumba with others.
In her own words, “Zumba makes me very happy, and I like to pass this happiness on to other people of all ages and abilities.”
Living Her Dream and Inspiring Others
Now actively living her dream, Hannah conducts regular Zumba classes for both mainstream and disabled groups.
Hannah’s dedication to Zumba led her to the ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) Academy in Manchester, where she had the opportunity to meet Beto, the founder of Zumba.
Recounting the experience, Hannah shares, “Meeting Beto at the ZIN Academy in Manchester was great.
“I was invited on stage, held a little speech, and Beto asked me to show the different Zumba movements.”
Being on stage at the academy was a moment of validation for Hannah, who is a trailblazer.
“Being a trailblazer makes me very happy, and I hope to encourage other people with disabilities to follow their dreams. I
“feel excited and proud,” she says, reflecting on the impact she hopes to have on others facing similar challenges.
A Trailblazer for Inclusivity
Hannah’s journey hasn’t been limited to fitness; she’s a former Special Olympics competitor in swimming and badminton.
With numerous medals under her belt, she retired from the Olympics after a successful career.
Her parents, Jutta and Mark Payton, express immense pride in their daughter’s achievements, seeing her as an inspiration to the community.
Before her Zumba journey took centre stage, Hannah was a force to be reckoned with in the Special Olympics, competing in swimming and badminton.
Recalling her athletic career, she reminisces, “As a Special Olympics competitor, I had many fantastic moments, and I won lots of medals and trophies with swimming and badminton.”
One of the highlights of her career was representing England in France, where she won silver and bronze in freestyle and butterfly events.
However, as her focus shifted to Zumba, Hannah made the decision to retire from the Special Olympics.
Despite stepping away, she cherishes the memories of competing and travelling across Britain and abroad.
Pure Gym Embraces Diversity
Pure Gym in Tyldesley reached out to Hannah to be their Zumba instructor, making her the first person with Down’s Syndrome to hold such a role in the UK.
The gym, known for its “Everybody Welcome” ethos, is excited to have Hannah lead classes, aligning with their values of inclusivity.
Never Give Up on Your Dreams
As an advocate for individuals with learning disabilities, Hannah offers heartfelt advice, saying, “My advice to other people with learning disabilities is to never give up and to follow your dreams.”
Her own journey exemplifies the power of perseverance and determination, and she hopes to inspire others facing challenges similar to hers.
I Love Manchester Award: A Night of Surprises, Laughter, and Dancing with Celebrities
Just last week, Hannah’s won the I Love Manchester award for Best Young Person of the Year.
Recounting the unforgettable night, she exclaims, “Winning the I Love Manchester award last Thursday was amazing!
“I was surprised to have won, but when Gemma Atkinson opened the envelope and read my name, I was so happy and excited!”
The joyous occasion included laughter, grinning, and a unique dance partner—Will Mellor.
“I couldn’t stop laughing and grinning.
“Everybody was cheering for me, and then I danced with Will Mellor!
“And I got hugs from the Coronation Street cast!
“It was such an amazing night, and I take my trophy everywhere,” Hannah shared.
Joy, Resilience, and Inclusivity
As Hannah continues to break barriers and inspire others, her legacy is one of joy, inclusivity, and the unwavering belief that everyone, regardless of abilities, deserves the chance to shine.
The I Love MCR Award is not just a recognition of her achievements but a celebration of the spirit that makes the city proud.