A few years ago, our School's Task Force team received a prestigious award for work carried out in and around Exeter, Devon, some with the elderly and some with youngsters in 'underprivileged' situations. The presentation was made by HRH The Prince of Wales at St James's Palace in London. His Royal Highness asked a number of questions about the aims of our work – finally enquiring jokingly if he might be allowed to join!
Recently HRH Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge announced their support for a new mental health initiative in the UK entitled 'Young Minds Matter.' It is so good to know that this vitally important subject has attracted the attention of the younger members of the Royal Family, for as well as being ever busy and active in our communities, they are at the same time loving and responsible parents who genuinely care about family issues. But like the rest of us, they are fully aware that things can be much more difficult – some would say almost impossible - where there's poverty and deprivation, poor health, overcrowding, 'absentee' parents, lack of adequate psychological and emotional support and possibly physical and/or mental disability and 'handicap' How can young minds learn to cope with so much pressure, and how can we all best help them?
Our school have decided to focus on this very important question for the remainder of this year. We have long believed that on-going after-school or Saturday dance clubs set up and run by our diploma holders, appropriately supervised, and with help from sympathetic friends or colleagues recruited as guest teachers, 'befrienders', classroom assistants – or simply coming along to encourage the young club members, would have considerable impact on the 'quality of life' of many thousands of youngsters who are currently struggling against very heavy odds. Such a facility should also be designed to significantly boost their 'life chances', so they get the fair start they truly deserve. Dr Alkis Raftis, Chief Executive of UNESCO CID, has very kindly given us a welcome 'shot in the arm' by his permission for future club members to wear dance gear bearing that great organisation's logo - what a way to begin building up their self-esteem and help them discover what they really can achieve! Our goal is to create frameworks for 15 such clubs by the end of the year.
We are on the point of applying for a share of special funding being made available to help ease the problems of no less than 3.5 million underprivileged and 'at risk' youngsters in the UK. But first we must present a viable 'action plan'.
Five outstanding UK students who have either completed, or are about to complete, the mandatory Foundation Course, which provides the Theory they need, have been invited to design, set up and run 12 'trial' sessions constituting a 'dance holiday' for a small group of local youngsters who would not otherwise get a 'chance2dance.' . All 5 are already highly experienced in youth dance, teaching, community work and all have shown a sound knowledge of how to take responsibility. Without a doubt, they deserve to be rewarded, and they soon will be. However, their 'trial' programme of 12 sessions, each lasting up to an hour, must be proven to have made a powerful 'restorative' and 'rehabilitative impact. They will be required to write an efficient 2-page report to our examiners on completion, hopefully this will lead to their being awarded our school's Full Int'l diploma, plus a complementary one from UNESCO CID, plus membership of the latter. (An annual membership fee will thereafter be payable by the candidate.)
But in order to receive the reward – equivalent to £10 for each of the sessions they have designed and implemented so far – each of the candidates must prove that the necessary structures have been put in place to enable their small 'dance holiday' group to become a fully-fledged dance club which gradually more and more deserving youngsters can join.We are offering 10 further Task Force 'Rewards' to outstanding students during 2016. Five will be for Full International Diploma holders, and 5 for holders of the new 'Dance Days and Holidays' Diploma – details of which can be found in our 'News' section.
New students who are interested will need to enrol for the current Foundation Course as soon as possible. On satisfactory completion, they will need to enrol for the follow-on course 'Sharing Dance with Others,' which contains all the guidance needed for designing, setting up and running an after-school or Saturday dance club for underprivileged youngsters in their area.
Please note – the new diploma programme 'Dance Days and Holidays' is only available to students already holding recognised dance teaching qualifications in the UK.
Every kind wish.
Director of Studies
Member UNESCO CID 3 March, 2016