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A hall full of school children standing in a circle with their arms raised in the air

Introducing Rise

Rise is our new education and research project aimed at improving health and wellbeing in year 5 pupils.

As the project develops during its two year pilot, we will share our experiences and findings with you.

Dance Education Officer Keisha Hamilton, the project lead for Rise, takes you through her preparations and first week of delivery:

Months of research and planning has been dedicated to Rise. I attended several courses to build my confidence and skills in how to create and deliver a project with a focus on health and wellbeing. This included a two day youth mental health first aider course, led by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA England), which means I am able to recognise the signs that a young person might be struggling with their mental health.

I also completed an introduction to dance and mental health course with People Dancing which supported some of the content I had planned for my sessions. I have studied research which demonstrates that the mental health of young people is a worry for many teachers across England, particularly in the face of funding cuts.

We held a briefing day here at Northern Ballet to meet the schools and teachers involved in Rise, find out more about their reasons for being part of the project and outline what the project will involve and the expectations of their involvement.

Prior to beginning delivery, I was able to visit the schools to introduce myself to the class, explain the content of the project and address any queries that the children might have. I introduced mindfulness to the pupils to help focus their attention, as all sessions will begin this way. There are over 200 children taking part, so my biggest personal challenge is to remember all those names!

Week one of the project was an introduction to dance technique and it was well received by most pupils. We first practiced our mindfulness then, once focused, teachers and pupils skipped, turned and laughed through the space, responding to instructions, demonstrating some of their strengths and identifying areas in which they can grow and learn. Pupils then annotated a life size drawing of me to explain how they had used their bodies in the session.

It feels like a very promising beginning, particularly for one pupil who teachers had expected to be reserved but who actually fully engaged and even thanked me at the end of the session. I cannot wait to continue to watch everybody ‘rise’.

Rise is supported with funding from the Paul Hamlyn FoundationThe Liz and Terry Bramall FoundationThe Steel Charitable Trust and The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust.