I live in Mississippi, a State known for food (world’s best fried catfish- yum!), the blues, writers (Willie Morris anyone?) and the civil rights movement but not often known for its healthy living related efforts. Ballroom dance is a long time passion of mine and one I have written about on this blog before. I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear a story that combines both, here in Mississippi!
Students at Bay-Waveland Middle School in Bay St. Louis added ballroom dance to their daily curriculum. “Moving Toward the Art of Good Health” is 3 year pilot program encouraging students to become physically active through ballroom dance, while learning about health, wellness and good nutrition. A grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation supported the program. By the way, Bay St. Louis, MS is a community blasted by Hurricane Katrina and still recovering from its impact. This program was started at the Middle School in wake of Hurricane Katrina. After trauma finding joy, focus and purpose is exquisitely important and healing.
Middle school aged kids dancing with each other and enjoying it. Normal everyday middle school aged kids. I am not so old that I can’t remember the awkwardness of middle school. Your body is doing odd things, at varying times and probably not at the same times of your friends. Cliques are formed and bringing new friends in to a circle or bridging across them is tough.
You can watch to a wonderful piece about “Moving Toward the Art of Good Health” here. You can see the joy and fun these kids are having dancing the Cha- Cha. In it students and the instructor name a number of benefits from this program. Social benefits include self-discipline, self- confidence, respect for one self and others. One young man, Gus profiled in the story lost 21 pounds over the course of the school year. He describes not only how his eating habits and choices have changes, but also how he has change. Now he’ll reach out beyond his exciting circle of friends and expand his social connections. These are skills for life.
This is not the first school based ballroom dance program in schools, watch Mad Hot Ballroom a wonderful film about a program in New York City, but it is the first I have heard of in Mississippi. This is inspiring! The story and these kids will make you smile.