News: Innovative mental health dance programme to help young people

Monday 23 January 2017

A brand new partnership with HeadStart Newham Mental Health Prevention Programme announced by East London Dance as part of new projects for 2017.

From February 2017, East London Dance will embark on an 18-month project with HeadStart Newham, funded by the Big Lottery to support the mental health resilience of young people aged between 10 and 16 years. The programme will deliver a creative, diverse and high quality programme of dance participation and performance for young Newham residents with emerging mental health difficulties.

50% of all lifetime mental disorders begin by age 14** , and evidence of the benefits of creative and sporting activities in promoting mental health resilience in 10-16 year olds who are at risk has been well documented. Newham has the second highest estimated prevalence of adolescent mental disorder in London. In light of these findings, HeadStart Newham has commissioned East London Dance to develop and lead a new preventative dance programme in partnership with London Youth and Sadler’s Wells, to promote well-being and mental health resilience for local young people.

The programme will offer dance classes at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, weekly classes, week-long projects and the opportunity to join the East London Youth Dance Company. This bespoke programme of dance participation and performance will reach at least 150 local young people over the next 18 months, culminating in a dance platform event at Stratford Circus Arts Centre.

Polly Risbridger, Director of East London Dance:
“As the leading producer of creative dance experiences for the people of East London, embedded here for the past three decades, it is energising and exhilarating to see the unprecedented changes taking place across the borough. Continuing our role nurturing the next generation of dance artists and innovators, I am delighted to announce that our unique co-investment initiative, the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund, which invested £25,000 in local artists and their ideas last year, returns in March as part of the annual Dance Enterprise Ideas Summit. Alongside this, and as part of a new strategic partnership with Sadler’s Wells, we are thrilled to be delivering our first East London-focused project together, alongside London Youth, offering a creative dance programme for local young people at risk of mental health problems.”

Kirsty Anderson-Tyrrell, Creative Producer, Participation and Events at East London Dance:
“Through our participation programme, East London Dance aims to provide progression routes for all young people of East London, of any age or ability. The HeadStart project will allow us to identify and connect with this specific group of young people, taking them on a progressive dance journey with us.”

Katy Arnander, Director of Artistic Programme at Sadler’s Wells:
“We are delighted that this important dance programme, delivered alongside London Youth, is the first project to come out of our new strategic partnership with East London Dance. Headstart Newham have identified a hugely significant and growing area of need among young people with this project, which will greatly benefit from the shared knowledge and experience of our partners and the profound effect dance can have on mental health and wellbeing.”

Jas Hothi, Sports Development Officer at London Youth:
“We have been delivering high quality sports sessions in nearly 100 communities across London for 8 years – particularly focusing on engaging young people who would otherwise miss out on these types of opportunities. We see real value in regular participation especially when considering the benefit to young people’s confidence, resilience and their ability to build relationships. We are really excited to be a part of this dance programme in Newham.”


**What works in enhancing social and emotional skills development during childhood and adolescence? – Clarke et al. 2015

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