How It All Began
The very first UDOIT! Programme started in Thurrock, Essex. Close ties with the Essex Police and knowledge of the depravity and youth crime in the area prompted Jo Keane, UDOIT! Community Leader, to reach out to the Police Crime commissioner (PCC) for Essex with a proposal that would utilise street dance to boost youth community engagement and school attendance whilst lowering crime rates in the area.
Based around a successful model used by UDOIT! partners, Showcase The Street, the proposal aimed to lower crime rates through improving school and community engagement and using street dance as a diversionary tool with evening classes, as well as introducing street dance as an extra-curricular activity in schools to improve engagement amongst children with low attendance rates.
Throughout the last year UDOIT! Has successfully engaged with hundreds of young people in and around Thurrock, Essex. Working with children of all ages from primary schools, secondary schools and community/leisure centres, UDOIT!, along with our partners have received amazing feedback from the Thurrock community ensuring a second year of funding from the Essex PCC to continue our work into 2016.
How We Are Helping
UDOIT! aims to help as many young people as we can through providing a fun, healthy activity for them to take part in through Street Dance.
Some examples of how our work has helped young people re-engage include groups of girls refusing to take part in PE lessons now choosing to attend Street Dance classes twice a week. Now, as well as seeing the health benefits of regular physical activity, they are also attending school to take part in the after-school street dance classes provided by UDOIT! teachers.
Another UDOIT! success story saw a group of year 9 girls with low attendance and a history of disruptive behaviour take part in our after school Street Dance classes which saw them re-engage with school and continue to develop the skills they learned in our classes after leaving the year group. They now regularly dance with Jess, one of our UDOIT! teachers, at Blackshots Leisure centre.
We are also currently running in-school sessions at Ormiston Park, William Edwards and Gable Hall working with pupils who are usually disruptive during PE, including some students who were close to being excluded due to bad behaviour.
Below are a few testimonials from teachers we have worked with in Thurrock explaining how UDOIT! has helped their students.
“We have a number of African children in our school who have previously not integrated with other class members, but thanks to the UDOIT! programme being after school they have been allowed to stay behind and take the classes. We have seen a real improvement in their confidence and growth in their friendship circles.”
– Ms L Nixon, St Mary’s Primary, Tilbury.
“We had a group of teenage males who would always gather around our Youth Club sessions and be a general pain to anybody who wanted to attend. When Demi first arrived to teach street dance the same males wolf whistled her and caused her some aggravation. Demi persisted and after a few weeks they started to engage with the dance and asked her to do some particular moves. They now engage each week with the sessions and the other members of the youth club.”
– Ms T Luck, St Stephen’s Community Trust, Purfleet.
A group from one of our community sessions were even invited to perform at the PCC Annual Conference in February 2016. For many this was their first trip out of Thurrock and first time performing in front of an audience! They all did amazingly well and have gained the confidence to perform again and keep developing their Street Dance skills.
What’s Coming Next?
UDOIT! aims to continue running our programme in Thurrock where we will be working with more disengaged children, troubled families and students to improve engagement and attendance at schools and lower crime rates.
We are also working with our partners Active Essex to compliment work they are doing in the area including an annual dance competition for schools where the best of the best will qualify to our massive National Schools event.
We are also currently developing dance young ambassador programme alongside Youth Sport Trust which we will be rolling out in Thurrock in the coming months!
Next week find out what we are doing in Newport, South Wales…