One Dance UK has been successful in receiving National Lottery funding from Sport England Active Ageing for a £495,000 dance programme to tackle inactivity in areas of Doncaster, Leeds and Bradford.
Sport England has put tackling inactivity at the heart of its strategy Towards An Active Nation, and launched the Active Ageing fund to tackle inactivity in the over 55s.
The funding will support the development, implementation and evaluation of a Dance Activator programme; delivering a wide and varied dance offer to engage inactive older people in disadvantaged areas to improve their activity levels and wider health and wellbeing.
Dance Activators will work intensively in a local community, building relationships with older people and partner organisations to engage inactive people from deprived communities in fun, accessible and social dance programmes. The programme may include regular social dance sessions such as jive, latin or ballroom dance plus creative/contemporary dance approaches which evidence shows can be inclusive of people with disabilities or health conditions and improve health outcomes.
The programme aims to engage inactive older people in physical activity “disguised” in fun, social dance activity. It therefore has the potential to engage inactive people who are not motivated by health or fitness. Data shows that dance is particularly effective at engaging women who, according to national surveys, are less active than men. The aim is to build sustainability throughout the programme; establishing self-funded dance programmes where communities have the capacity to pay and building partnerships and gaining buy in from public and voluntary sector partners to support ongoing activity in the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas.
Jan Burkhart, Strategic Lead for the Dance in Health & Wellbeing partnership describes the Dance Activator approach: “The Dance Activator programme is based on well-established community dance models used over the last 40 years within the dance sector, redesigned by applying learning from the Sport England insight and design tools, to meet the Active Ageing agenda. It will also draw on the Dancing in Time model funded by Leeds City Council; a creative contemporary dance intervention that research by Leeds University showed significantly improved levels of moderate physical activity, mental wellbeing, and reduced social isolation in women aged 60 to 85 years. We will take a community-centered approach with older people playing an active part as volunteers, advisors and champions and bringing communities together to reduce social isolation.”
Wieke Eringa, Artistic Director of Yorkshire Dance, says: “Our participation in the Active Ageing programme is one of a growing number of Yorkshire Dance projects using dance to address issues related to age – among them inactivity, social isolation, Parkinson’s and dementia. It’s exciting to contribute to important national research and gratifying that our work is having a positive practical impact in the lives of so many older adults. It’s also a genuine delight that projects such as Active Ageing enable us to give full-time work to a number of dance professionals in Leeds, Bradford and Doncaster.”
Andrew Hurst, Chief Executive of One Dance UK says: “We are really excited to be able to shine a light on the excellent work our members, and the sector more broadly, are doing with dance and public health. Academic research will be embedded in the project from the beginning alongside robust monitoring and evaluation, working with Leeds University, to evidence the effectiveness and multiple benefits of health interventions using dance.”
Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England says: “Being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age. We’re delighted to be supporting One Dance UK and Yorkshire Dance with National Lottery funding to help get older adults lead happier and healthier lives. We’ll be sharing learnings so successful approaches can be scaled-up or replicated across the country.”
Click HERE for the full list of projects being funded by Active Ageing.