Bringing boogie and ballet to the bedside

Dancing for health

ECHC's Arts Programme has teamed up with Dance Base, Scotland's national centre for dance, to provide weekly dance sessions for children and young people in hospital as a fun way to introduce gentle exercise into their routines - and it's proved a real hit!

Dance Base instructor Christina Liddell visits once a week to run bedside workshops, working closely with the hospital's physiotherapists to develop tailored sessions, adapted for the individual needs of each child. Christina said “It has been such an uplifting experience to dance with these kids. By working very closely with the physiotherapists we’ve been able to build a rapport with them and help meet their specific needs in really beneficial ways.

“To see their faces light up when they hear a certain song or do a specific dance is wonderful - it’s so encouraging to see the movements helping them in their physical and mental recovery. Dance is a wonderful way for the children to express themselves, plus it can help them to relax, both physically and mentally. 

"Hospital can be a stressful place for many of the kids and these dance sessions are a great distraction tactic. Even the gentle exercise can release endorphins and this can be so beneficial to lifting mood and spirits.”

"We are so grateful to Dance Base for helping us to make this happen as it has been such a worthwhile activity and has really helped the children. Not only does it help the children in their recovery but it’s also a learning experience and teaches them how to do some basic steps and to communicate through dance.”

Fiona O'Sullivan, ECHC Arts Programme Manger

Dance is a great form of exercise as it can provide a range of physical and mental benefits. These include include improved heart and lung function, increased flexibility, improved muscle tone and strength, stronger bones and better co-ordination and balance. Most importantly, dance is fun! When incorporated with inspiring music it can be a winning combination, providing a creative outlet as well as a good ‘workout’. 

Feedback from children, parents and staff has been overwhelmingly positive, with one staff member commenting that it he'd been "amazed" and that it had been one of the best activities of the year. The success of the programme has inspired ECHC to expand it into community healthcare settings, with Dance Base delivering workshops for children and young people undergoing physiotherapy at Mussleburgh Health Centre. Mairi McGinley, Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist involved in Dance Base's Musselburgh workshops commented: "What a fab session! The smiles on the kids' faces say it all."

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