News: Extra-curricular dance classes improve wellbeing of young people

Friday 13 March 2015 by Clare Evans

Students backstage at Sadler's Wells 
Photo: Foteini Christofilopoulou

New research from the has confirmed what many of us have long known – that taking part in an extracurricular activity that is both physical and creative, such as dance classes, has a positive impact on physical and mental well-being. Although this may seem obvious to some, the new statistics from the Institute of Voluntary Action Research will support the case for strengthening creative education in after-school clubs.

The research from the IVAR found that, of the young people who participate in extra-curricular classes:

• 80% feel more physically confident
• 78% feel more socially confident
• 73% feel more confident in school classes

The new found confidence isn’t just limited to dancing ability, A number of the focus group participants described feeling newly confident when taking part in other activities not related to dance with one commenting, “My confidence has increased not just in dance, but in life, for example doing a presentation at school.”, and another saying that “If I can dance in front of an audience, then I can raise my hand in class”

According to a recent Public Health England report, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental ill health problems affecting adolescents. By building confidence, resilience and promoting well-being through extra-curricular dance classes, anxiety can be reduced, and young people’s overall confidence and well-being can be significantly improved.

The findings came from surveys, interviews and focus groups with young people who participate in Step into Dance – the UK’s largest fully inclusive secondary schools dance programme run as a partnership between the Jack Petchey Foundation and the Royal Academy of Dance.

You can find more information about Step into Dance’s extra-curricular dance classes and performance opportunities at www.stepintodance.org.

Picture: Students backstage at Sadler’s Wells by Foteini Christofilopoulou

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