Free dance lessons for obese children

YOUNGSTERS fighting obesity are being given free dance sessions on the NHS as part of a pioneering scheme to help them lose weight and get fit.

John Howard

YOUNGSTERS fighting obesity are being given free dance sessions on the NHS as part of a pioneering scheme to help them lose weight and get fit.

The pilot project - which is happening in Stowmarket - could be rolled out across the rest of the county if it is a success.

The announcement comes just days after a new “fat map” showed that Suffolk and Essex appear to be winning the fight against obesity, although health chiefs fear many children are still at risk.

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The scheme, a joint initiative between Stowhealth surgery and DanceEast, is being run for two age groups - nine to 13-year-olds and 13 to 18-year-olds.

The programme, which is funded by the Suffolk Strategic Partnership, offers a variety of fun sessions and workshops with the aim of increasing fitness levels, promoting healthier lifestyles, teaching new skills and boosting self-esteem.

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Weekly dance sessions will also be combined with nutritional advice, art therapy, relaxation techniques and alternative fitness methods.

Angela Lilley, a spokeswoman for DanceEast, said: “This is an innovative way to tackle obesity. Concerns are high about this issue in young people and if we are successful with this pilot scheme it will carry on and could expand to other areas of Suffolk.”

Elaine Aylott, health improvement manager at NHS Suffolk, said: “One of our major roles is to improve the health and wellbeing of the population.

“Wherever possible, we will encourage people to cut their risk of contracting preventable illness by taking steps such as maintaining a healthy weight.

“We welcome initiatives which encourage people of all ages to think about their health and do something positive to improve it, such as taking more exercise and finding out more about nutrition.”

Parents or guardians will be invited to some of the sessions so they can support their child during the project, which will run from September to April.

It is also being backed by Ipswich Town Football Club Community Trust, which will give sports taster sessions, and the Ipswich juice bar, MyJuice, which will be promote the benefits of five-a-day with their smoothie making sessions.

An open morning will take place on Saturday, September 6 at the Stowhealth surgery, Violet Hill Road, Stowmarket, from 10am to 11am for nine to 13-year-olds and from 11am for 13 to 18-year-olds.

Applications are invited from anyone living in Suffolk and for more information contact Claire Bourgein on 01473 295234, by e-mail on or text 07979 931543 with your name and address.

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