New Dance On Toolkit launched to get more people moving

Posted: Thu, 21 Sep 2023 12:09

New Dance On Toolkit launched to get more people moving

Book now to find out more about how this pioneering approach is helping people move more, improve wellbeing and enjoy a better quality of life.

A brand new Toolkit is being launched aimed at dancers, care home staff, public health professionals, health and social care practitioners, and anyone who has an interest in the power of movement to give our ageing population more years better lived.

Over the past seven years, a group of collaborating organisations in Yorkshire have developed a pioneering approach to keeping older people active that is proven to improve mobility, social connection, balance and mood, and reduces fear of falling. Led by darts, One Dance UK, the University of Leeds and Yorkshire Dance, Dance On has proved to be a highly successful model, enhancing the lives of hundreds of older adults – many of whom who were previously deemed 'inactive'.

Funded predominantly by Sport England's national Active Ageing and Local Delivery Pilot Programmes, with partnership funding from a range of partners including City of Doncaster Council, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Leeds City Council and Arts Council England, the programme has enabled people who might not ordinarily access sports or fitness activities to become more physically active through regular fun, social, dance activity.

Participants have reported that taking part in Dance On sessions has improved their physical health as well as how happy and connected they feel to others, saying:

"I have more mobility, more flexibility. I feel fitter and healthier."

"I am 89 and feel younger with dance."

"I feel I can walk upstairs easier since coming here. I don't stop halfway."

"I have limited mobility, use a wheelchair and have COPD. However, the dance moves and exercise help with my mobility and give me a sense of freedom of movement."

"Mentally I feel better because I tend to worry a lot, and while I'm dancing it takes my mind off things. It relieves stress, it's really beneficial."

Along with feedback from participants, evidence has been backed up by a robust academic study undertaken by the University of Leeds. Dr Sarah Astill, Associate Professor in Motor Control in Leeds' School of Biomedical Sciences led the research team and found that Dance On is an effective way of modifying well known factors which can predispose someone to fall and prevent the downward spiral into frailty. The programme encourages regular physical activity for maintaining fitness and activity levels in a more subtle way than traditional physical activity programmes. Evidence showed that many attend for social opportunities and noted improvements to their mental as well as physical health through social interaction.

Dr Astill said: "Dance On and the toolkit are the result of more than seven years of collaborative work between the University of Leeds, darts and Yorkshire Dance. This work is driven by a desire to co-create opportunities to support health and wellbeing in local communities.

"Dance is a fantastic way to stay active, connect with others and promote good mental health. The toolkit offers dance artists, the third sector and local councils an accessible reference point to start designing and implementing local dance programmes for their communities. It also draws on the work we have carried out in care homes, widening the reach of dance as a means of promoting health benefits and improving overall wellbeing among care-home residents.

"This project highlights the impact of research - and its capacity to make a positive difference - when Universities and their partners collaborate on projects that serve their local communities."

The new Dance On Toolkit is based on over 7 years of academic research, sessions to develop the approach, conversations with participants, and experiences of working with older adults. The free, downloadable resource condenses the key essential ingredients into an easy to read and accessible document. From sourcing the right venue to choosing motivating music, from developing community ambassadors to writing risk assessments, this Toolkit provides bite sized ideas, case studies and templates for anyone looking to develop their own dance programme for older people, or for dancers or care staff to improve their practice.

The Toolkit will be launched at a special event on Friday 6th October 10.00am – 3.00pm at Yorkshire Dance in Leeds. Speakers include: Jodie Bridger - City of Doncaster Council, Russ Turner - Sport England, Dr Sarah Astill – the University of Leeds, and Charlotte Armitage and Lucy Robertshaw from darts. The afternoon will feature an opportunity to engage in a collaborative discussion and debate about the benefits and barriers to implementing dance activity, how we can enable communities to engage in dance practice to enhance their wellbeing, physical activity, and social connection.

To book a place, go to:

For more information, please contact Lucy Robertshaw – Director (Arts & Health) at darts on or 01302493993, or Hannah Robertshaw at Yorkshire Dance

[Image Credit: James Mulkeen for darts]

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