The power of dance in schools is easily illustrated as Celebration of Dance inspires more than 6,000 local students to get active!


Kingston, ON —Hearts were pumping and feet were tapping to the beat
as 3,000 local elementary students danced their way to better health at
Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada during KFL&A Public Health’s
seventh annual Celebration of Dance event. To accommodate more
students wishing to take part in the event this year, an additional 2,000
students participated in Celebration of Dance at Fairfield Elementary School
on May 10, and another 1,000 students at École Sir John A. MacDonald
School on May 11.

As part of the health and physical education curriculum, students from the
Limestone District School Board and the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic
District School Board have been learning nine different dance routines
since January in preparation for the big event.

DANCEPL3Y was honoured to have been selected to provide the choreography
and lead the large-scale celebrations designed to develop physical literacy and
inspire positive thinking through dance

Students were led in dance by Chief PLAY Officer, Mélanie Levenberg of
PL3Y International Inc. Mélanie is an internationally renowned fitness
and dance instructor who strives to bring playfulness to people’s lives
through physical activity.  “My mission is to inspire everybody to foster a
playful mindset as they get moving and do things that make their minds
and bodies feel great,” said Mrs. Levenberg.

With only nine percent of 5 to 17 year olds in Canada meeting the
recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous
activity per day, this event encourages kids to get active. “Evidence
suggests that children who become physically active at an early age,
are more likely to continue to be physically active later in life,” said Lara
Paterson, physical activity specialist with KFL&A Public Health and the
Limestone District School Board. “Celebration of Dance inspires kids
to get active, and promotes a healthy mind and body.”

Celebration of Dance Video

DANCE and Its Important Role in Today’s Schools

In an time where subjects like Reading/Writing, Mathematics and Science are being prioritized over Arts and Physical Education in our schools’ timetables, events like Celebration of Dance easily illustrate the awesome power that dance plays in our students’ school experience. Below are my reflections of the impact that I saw this initiative bring to the students, teachers and everyone involved.

The health benefits of physical activity were experienced…
Enjoying the great outdoors and fresh air, students, teachers, parents, community partners and volunteers got their hearts pumping, their feet moving, their muscles flexing and their faces smiling. This dance event allowed everyone to experience the cognitive, physical, social and emotional benefits that dance provides!

A Comprehensive School Health/Healthy Schools initiative was successfully implemented…
School Districts from across the Kingston region partnered with the Public Health Unit, local businesses and volunteers to bring to life the annual event. This initiative supported multiple domains of the CSH model: Teaching and Learning, Social and Physical Environments and Partnerships and Services.

Student leaders emerged…
In fall 2016, students learned dances that develop physical literacy, and prepared themselves to be filmed. The videos were then sent to schools across the region so that students could learn the Celebration of Dance routines. The students in the videos became role models not only in their own schools, but across the region. They joined us on stage last week to lead the dances in front of the crowds of thousands, and they rocked it with confidence and style!

Students were challenged…

As students across the district learned the routines, they were challenged to develop fundamental movement skills, to demonstrate interpersonal skills and to remember dance sequences and combinations. The best learning occurs when students are given the opportunity to face a challenge, develop skills and demonstrate their new abilities and knowledge.

Schools came together in celebration…
Pride in one’s school is a great motivator to bring people together as well as celebrate community and diversity. This event gathered more than 40 schools together – each one able to showcase their passion and pride through team colours, costumes and coordinated cheers.

Physical activity was used to connect students across a country…
For the final song of the Celebration of Dance playlist, students were ‘challenged’ by a school across the country. Kamloops SD73 in British Columbia organized a ‘dance challenge’ to all schools across the nation in honour of Canada’s 150th. With a purposeful ‘pointing’ to the sky and a powerful “Feels good to be alive – right about now!” chant, 6,000 students from Kingston joined a ‘movement’ sparked by a school 5 provinces away.

The Physical Education curriculum came to life…
High-energy dance moves were purposefully integrated into the choreography for Celebration of Dance so that any time students were practicing and preparing for the event, that they were meeting Daily Physical Activity requirements (20 mins of moderate to vigorous physical activity/day), as well as developing physical literacy and fundamental movements skills. They were also able to apply interpersonal skills as they worked with others to learn the dances, moved safely and applied creative thinking and self-expression skills as they danced and show their unique style! (Teachers could also use the dances to teach Elements of Dance, which are part of the Arts curriculum.)

A different type of muscle was flexed….
The creative mind! When students dance, they are invited to show their unique style. This engages the mind in a different way than most traditional academic subjects: they get to be creative, explore possibilities, and express themselves in a creative way using physical movement (rather than paper/pencils, or posters/glue!).

Positive mindsets were practiced…
Through the 3 Rules of PLAY, students practiced positive mindsets by a) switching “I can’t do this” to “I can!” (Be Positive), b) sharing “the most fun version of themselves” (Be Fun) and c) confidently showing others their unique style (Be Yourself). As the event finished, everyone got to claim their “Bubble of Awesome” by saying “I AM AWESOME” out loud and choose to exist from a place of positivity for the rest of the day/week/month/year!

The physical literacy journey continued…
As students had authentic and meaningful experiences with dance and physical activity, this event marked one more event in their personal physical literacy journey. Through purposeful choreography they could develop Fundamental Movement Skills and a competence with movement, through three simple ‘rules’ their confidence grew, and as they joined others and felt the power of positivity and playfulness, they became more motivated to get involved, on that day and into the future!

Capacity and sustainability was built…
In order for all great initiatives to continue, a local capacity must be build in order to ensure sustainability. This year marked my 7th Celebration of Dance and also my last – the MC and lead instructing position has now been passed along to local Certified Instructors and School Program Providers Shelley Mulrooney and Carolyn Trepanier.

I am honoured to have been a part of this amazing event and though it is bittersweet for me to move on,  I do so driven by a relentless passion to develop more local leaders who will positively impact the learning and lives of thousands of students and kids. I look forward to continuing to work with teachers, recreation leaders, students and community organizations who want to inspire kids to feel healthy and happy through physical activity and dance!