–Originally Published June 2014–

Collaborative Action on Childhood Obesity phase 2 (CACO2) Project (2011-2014)

LET’S DANCE! DANCEPL3Y is an internationally accredited children’s physical literacy and dance program that uses a fusion of simple moves and energizing music to inspire kids to get interACTIVE as they develop fundamental movement skills and self confidence. In partnership with the Indigenous Health Research Group and the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, DANCEPL3Y brought this uplifting physical activity to Aboriginal communities, through a youth leadership training program.

As part of the CACO2 Coalitions Linking Science and Action for Prevention (CLASP), funded by Health Canada through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC), DANCEPL3Y Master Trainers spent time working with youth leaders to develop skills and confidence in becoming physical activity leaders. The leaders were taught how to teach DANCEPL3Y songs and organize classes so that they could offer after-school programming to younger children in their community. The initiative focused on building local capacity for ongoing, non sports-based physical literacy programming for children and teens.

Over the course of the three years, Melanie Levenberg, DANCEPL3Y Program Director and Brooke Yantzi, DANCEPL3Y Master Trainer, traveled to Sandy Lake and Wapekeka Ontario, Kitkatla, British Columbia and Fort Provindence, NWT to train youth workers in the DANCEPL3Y program. In total 26 Youth Leaders (ages 13 to Elders) were trained on how to teach simple and playful dance choreography for popular songs such as ‘Happy by Pharrell Williams, ‘Gangnam Style by PSY’ and ‘We Found Love by Rihanna’.

Corinna Innes, an Elder and Youth Worker at Gitxaala Nation, noted that “The kids kept talking about [the DANCEPL3Y dance classes]. I haven’t seen them this excited for a long time.”  Mrs. Innes saw the impact it had in sparking a curiosity in the community: “The kids who came were telling the other kids who didn’t come…we were getting all these kids asking us ‘Are we going to dance?’ because they heard it was so much fun”. Shailyn, a Grade 7 student who also participated in the DANCEPL3Y Leader Training “had a really great time – it was a really fun workshop.”

To date, the DANCEPL3Y Youth Leadership Training Program has been brought to five Aboriginal communities throughout Canada. As of December 2014, 47 dance sessions were delivered by the trained Youth Leaders, reaching over 1,000 children in the regions where the trainings were delivered.

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A Vancouver-based, internationally accredited physical activity program, DANCEPL3Y inspires kids and adults to get playful with dance. Developed by Physical Educator and Certified Fitness Expert, Melanie G Levenberg M.Ed, DANCEPL3Y classes showcase a mix of dance styles ranging from Hip-Hop, Club, House. Latin, Jazz, Funk, Street, Krump and all genres in between. Each song is set to popular chart-topping music. Based on the 3 Rules of PL3Y – Be Positive, Be Fun, Be Yourself – DANCEPL3Y is more than a dance class, it is a fun, confidence-boosting approach to physical activity. Classes are currently offered by Certified Instructors in British Columbia, Ontario, and various cities in Australia and Europe.


ABOUT Indigenous Health Research Group

The Indigenous Health Research Group is a multidisciplinary network of scholars at the University of Ottawa conducting research in the area of Indigenous people’s health. The group formed in 2006 and members collaboratively and independently have secured national and international research grants to explore community based solutions to the growing prevalence of obesity and obesity related diseases in indigenous populations in national and international contexts. The group has worked with local communities and tribal organizations studying the benefits, viability and risks associated with local cultural practices, primarily as they relate to diet and physical activity. The Indigenous Health group is working with community partners to develop land based health strategies to enable a viable and sustainable health model for indigenous populations.