Form 2 took part in a ‘Dancing with Dementia Patients’ project as part of their Responsibilities Development and as an extension of the school’s Outreach Development. Ms Worthington, Deputy Head of Junior Department, explained, “The aim was twofold: to provide Outreach Opportunities to Form 2 children to increase their understanding, compassion and self-awareness whilst also developing their sense of responsibility towards others in the local community. We believe that by doing this, children will be given opportunities to embody and develop the values of trust, compassion, love and understanding.”
To implement the project, the children worked with Filipa Pereira-Stubbs and the Horizons Community Centre, Coldhams Lane, Cambridge. Horizons Community Centre is a day care centre for people with Learning Difficulties and also has a supported living area called The Birches for people with Dementia. Filipa came to school and ran workshops with each Form 2 class. These workshops included teaching and discussion on dementia; what it looked like, how it presented in adults and what the children might expect to see. Children talked about their own experiences of dementia. Filipa also taught the children how to move to music and they experimented with different ways of moving and dancing in pairs or small groups.
Each Form 2 class visited the Horizons Community Centre and the children sat interspersed between the adults and talked confidently and thoughtfully to the people near to them. Filipa led a seated warm up and then children, carers, volunteers and the elderly people with dementia introduced themselves to the whole group. Following this, children were invited to move with the elderly people and a beautiful chaotic but gentle dance ensued. Some people sang along and music was used as a trigger to bring some of the elderly people out of their sometimes subdued state.
The Form 2 children commented, “I loved it so much that I didn't want to leave, I loved it all but my favourite part I think was when we danced in the middle.” and, “I have never done anything like this before but it was so good seeing them smile.” Form 2K teacher, Mrs Clare Knoop, reflected, "The atmosphere was calm, warm and friendly so that children and patients felt safe. The children demonstrated great compassion and understanding and many commented on how it made them feel so happy and proud to bring smiles to the faces of the patients. It also developed their understanding of how dementia can present and they responded with great patience and humour. The patients clearly loved having the children there to dance with and enjoyed chatting to and moving with them.”