As part of the launch of York’s Culture Strategy ‘York’s Creative Future’, through the Better Care Fund, Make It York and City of York Council awarded funding of more than £10,000 to seven social and cultural initiatives across the city – with the aim of easing loneliness, isolation and mental ill-health during the winter months.
The grants were set up in recognition of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s wellbeing – through shielding, self-isolation and social distancing.
One project the grant scheme supported was York Dance Space’s Mindful Movements initiative. Designed to promote physical and mental wellbeing in people over the age of 55 living in York – York Dance Space created a series of activities that participants could take part in in their own homes to positively boost mind, body and soul during lockdown.
Mindful Movements included five ‘audio movement sessions’ which were available to stream for free online. Taking participants on a journey of music and movement, the sessions guided people through a series of fun creative dance exercises. The audio sessions were created to encourage people to take just fifteen minutes out of their day to bring awareness to their bodies and get moving.
Running alongside these were live online Zoom sessions focusing on creative dance and mindfulness which participants could join each week for five weeks. The dance classes included a mixture of taught movement sequences and creative improvisations all delivered in a friendly and welcoming environment. People of all abilities were encouraged to take part, with absolutely no dance experience necessary to get involved.
The evening mindfulness classes also ran each week – offering short thirty-minute sessions to get participants to take part in mindfulness awareness exercises and move their bodies.
The sessions were well attended with 43 people taking part in the evening mindfulness classes and 29 in the morning creative dance – and feedback was very positive. Comments included:
“l found it released tensions and left me feeling cheerful and physically relaxed.”
“Creative Dance on a Monday morning is brilliant. It’s relaxing and gets you moving at the same time. It’s gentle and energetic and a totally lovely way to start the week.”
“I tried the online sessions and Wednesdays classes. They were lovely and calm and just what I could manage. I enjoyed connecting with other people as I’m currently strictly isolating.”
Hannah Wintie-Hawkins of York Dance Space said, “Movement and dance has been proven to have great benefits for both physical and mental health and with this initiative we were really looking at ways to help boost people’s mental wellbeing through mindfulness. The sessions were designed to make participants more aware of their bodies, be connected to the present moment in time and to respond physically through moving. We wanted them to be really inclusive so that everyone could participate at their own pace in the comfort of your own home with no experience needed.
Feedback was really great and it lovely that we were able to bring together a growing community of people all interested in how dance and moving could benefit their health and wellbeing. We had so many lovely people taking part in this project and we look forward to welcoming them to the studio and meeting them face to face now. We are planning on running more evening mindfulness sessions at a later time and opening this up to all ages so watch this space for more details on that. A huge thank you to everyone who took part and to the Better Care Fund for helping us to put these sessions on.”
For more details about the Mindful Movement project here: yorkdancespace.com/mindful-movement