As we get older, we might experience feeling isolated and disconnected from society for a number of reasons. Sport and physical activity is one way we can interact with new people, build friendships and connections, and improve health and wellbeing.
After speaking to older people about physical activities that excite them, we learned that there was an appetite for dance classes.
Working with Age UK Hounslow and Step Change Studios, we began by running a successful dance taster session for 35 people in conjunction with an older peoples’ dementia group. Based on the level of interest for the taster session, we set up a twelve week block of sessions which explored different types of dance with music from around the world, culminating in a showcase event to the participants’ friends and family, plus the Age UK Hounslow over 80s group.
The sessions were really popular, with 20-30 people attending each week.
People taking part told us they felt less isolated, having met new people, and created connections within their local communities.
The dance classes weren’t just connecting people socially. One older person who struggles with his memory on a day to day basis because of dementia, had no problem recalling the various movements and steps. He was delighted to be able to share this experience with his wife, who also attended the class and enjoyed being able to dance with him again.
The showcase event was a huge success and many friends and family came to watch and support their loved ones. Routines that had been learnt were recalled, involving dance styles from ballroom to latin. The over 80s group, who were invited to enjoy the dancing finale, were offered the opportunity of a seated dance.
These dance classes are a great example of how Sense Sport is working with partners in the local community to establish sessions which enable people to connect differently through sport and physical activity.