Dancing our way to health and happiness Health and wellbeing is such an important part of the work we do to support people with learning disabilities at Minstead Trust. We are always looking for new ways for the people we support to have fun and keep fit, so we decided to welcome to our team a new dance teacher – Christina Binney. In this blog, volunteer Christina celebrates Volunteers' Week 2019 by telling us how dance benefits the people we support. Dance is for everyone and anyone For many years, dance has been a way of telling a story or expressing emotion, and although some may see dance as a physically challenging activity, it really is all about moving in your own way. For people with learning disabilities, dancing is a great way to not only stay physically active and mentally fit, but it offers the chance to have a creative and unique voice through movement. You can see from companies such as Candoco Dance Company and Stop Gap, as well as this wonderful audition on the Greatest Dancer: Minstead Trust offers dance as part of the expressive arts sessions that they run within the Skill Up courses in the community, where students gain practical life experience by working with other people and independently through dance. Expressing yourself There is no right or wrong way to express yourself through dance, and that’s what makes it so special and enjoyable! From the tango to street dance, each style has its own unique story much like our students. Contemporary is the go-to for our attendees due to its free and limitless nature, which can have many therapeutic benefits. Not only is dance about moving our bodies, but it helps the people we support to develop better skills in listening, co-ordination and confidence. Dance is all about how you feel when moving, so to support each individual Christina always adapts and demonstrates steps and exercises that are both comfortable and rewarding for those that are in a wheelchair or a little unsteady on their feet. Dance volunteers Christina, Ria and Anna Transferable skills Dance helps us in everyday life! It releases emotions, strengthens cognitive skills and enhances your physical abilities and social skills – few (if any) other forms of exercise can claim the same. While you are having fun, you may not notice that all the dancing you are doing will be helping your concentration, coordination, balance and agility. It’s a fantastic all-round activity. Dance makes us happy When we move, our bodies create dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which can affect your mood and what you are thinking. No matter your ability, dancing is the perfect hobby for keeping fit, making friends and feeling better about yourself. For looking after your health, building endurance and motor fitness plus improving balance and spatial awareness, dancing is the one way you can do it all while having fun. There is a huge amount of creativity and energy from the students at Minstead Trust; I am continually inspired and amazed by each and every attendee I teach. Dance is so much more than the stereotypical image that is painted by films and shows; it really is all about sharing our experiences, expressing without words, exploring what our bodies are capable of as well as just putting on some of your favourite tunes and having a good time with your friends! Collaborating, listening and learning from the students at Minstead and the Skill Up Course really is the highlight of my week, and reminds me everyday how important, unique and enjoyable dance can be. Want to experience the joy of dance? To find out more about the services we offer as part of our day opportunities, click here.