This month young people from the Dance 4 Change programme spent three incredible days in Brighton on a fun-packed dance residential. Having originally joined the programme over Zoom in the pandemic, it was the first time all the young women and girls were able to dance together in person.
Dance 4 Change is a programme that uses dancing and discussion to help young women and girls express themselves and improve their physical and mental health.
One of our coaches Emily is a Psychology BS graduate from Bangor University. Within her role Emily is responsible for designing and incorporating group exercises in to the Dance 4 Change sessions that stimulate important conversations surrounding mental health. With most group discussions referring to the detrimental influences of social media, the young people are always encouraged to prioritise exercise over screen time for a few minutes each day.
Although the young people were busy taking photos of the amazing Brighton scenery, screen time on the residential was kept to a minimum. Everyone found themselves engaging in conversation and group games (UNO being a favourite card game) rather than scrolling through Instagram, TikTok and other popular social media platforms.
Each day of the residential, the group would visit a private dance studio to practice their dancing skills. Guided by the head coach Chantelle; a crumping-dance professional and our other coach Maddy, by the last dance session of the residential the young people had created an incredible dance routine that they were all really proud of.
One young girl shared: “It’s so nice to be able to dance together in person… it’s really helped me to make new friends.”
Some of the young people lacked enough self-confidence to turn on their cameras during the online Zoom classes. The coaches were incredibly pleased to watch as these individuals developed a new sense of confidence and found the courage to help direct some of the dance performances.
Our coach Maddy shared: “The pandemic really affected how much everyone could interact with each other… sharing the dance studio and dancing together in person has really helped the young people to challenge themselves and develop their self-confidence.”
The last morning of the residential was spent in a local pottery painting shop, where the girls and young women were able to decorate a piece of pottery. The creative exercise gave everyone an opportunity to open-up about their family life, the challenges they faced in school and their aspirations for the future.
For many of the young people, this residential was the first time they have been away from the comfort of their family and the familiarity of their common daily routine in over a year. Thanks to the tremendous work of our coaches any challenging moments on the trip were overcome by excitement, joy, and laughter.
Everyone left the Brighton residential with unforgettable new memories, a developed sense of confidence in themselves and the promise of lasting life-long friendships.
On the train ride home one young person shared: “It’s like we’re one big dance family!”