4 February 2021 10:24
Dance for Children's Mental Health Week
The theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is ‘Express Yourself’ and focuses on the creative ways children and adults can share feelings, thoughts or ideas through art, music, writing, poetry, dance, drama, photography and film, or just doing activities that make them feel good.
The benefits of dance for physical but also mental wellbeing are well documented, so when we all found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, dance came to the rescue for thousands of people around the world.
The RAD international community has countless stories to share of how dance has a positive impact on groups and individuals on a daily basis. How it helps overcome adversity and, indeed, allows for a true expression of the self. See some of these remarkable testimonies below.
Toby has spoken to thousands of people across the world, in a unique quest to write letters to every country in the world.
Another thing Toby aims to inspire through is dance. Since starting his Writing to the World project, Toby has a standing contact request to write to male ballet dancers around the world, also using his project to try and encourage more boys. ‘Dancing with other boys makes you feel happier that you are in more of a family, and you don’t feel like you’re an odd one out’, says Toby.
For Toby dance is a way to tell people things, using his body to draw pictures, just like his letter-writing project through words. And as for any negativity, Toby leads the way: ‘don’t listen to people that are mean to you. It’s your choice, not theirs. Hold your head up high, and DANCE!’
To me, dance is one of the most creative, expressive art form there is. When I’m dancing I forget about anything bad that has happened in my life …
I think that dance has helped me so much through lockdown especially with me becoming more confident and positive towards myself. This is because with all the stress and mixed emotions everyone had and still has. Dance has really helped me connect to the things I like and find out what things really make me passionate in life. Dance has helped me with so many things including lifting moods, increasing strength, and flexibility, etc. It has also helped me connect with other people just like me, people who love dance. Having friends that have similar hobbies is such a precious gift as it helps you build up so many things including your confidence and trust. For example, when I started secondary I met this girl and even though we had a lot of similarities, dance was one of the main ones… It would be the biggest thing we’d talk about and now, nearly 2 years later we are still inseparable.
During this hard time, we have not been able to go out but having the opportunity to be on zoom doing the things we love is such an incredible thing. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
Dance helps me find words without saying it. It calms me and that is why I love and embrace it so much.
Dance gives me a little burst of happiness. It’s been so important for my mental wellbeing to get up and get on the camera and see all my friends and the teacher and to practice technique. Otherwise, I think, it would be really easy to sit down and just do nothing.
Dance gives you a boost every day. I don’t know what I would have done without it.
After dancing for some years, a lot of young people find themselves entering competitions, like the RAD’s Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition (formerly known as the Genée), in order to challenge themselves and progress in their dancing careers.
A theme that runs through these testimonies is how dance can boost your confidence and aids in gaining courage and self-belief, determination, dedication and discipline. All these skills are transferable and invaluable in life.
Find out more about their experiences: