Fred Astaire Dance Studios: Where Kids Get Healthier & Learn to Put the 'Big Chill' on Today’s Bullying Climate
by Christian Lange, Owner of FADS Southbury & Nancy LaPierre, Corporate Coywriter
|Paulo Jorge, manager, & Christian Lange, studio owner, are helping kids in big ways in Southbury, CT|
This month, Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Southbury, CT, unveiled a newly-designed competitive ballroom dancing after-school program for kids and juniors. Perfect timing, we must say. First, the new school year has just begun; second, kids have an urgent, ongoing need for more opportunities to reach their potential. Ballroom dance, and the fitness, confidence, discipline, and important social skills that it provides, most certainly can make a big difference in their lives.
When kids step out onto a big, shiny floor, suddenly they wanna move! Dancing is a great activity choice for all kids, and it's perfect for those who need to shed some pounds. More than 1/3 of all US children are overweight according to a 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control. In the last 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled, and it has more than tripled in adolescents. Obesity isn't cute. It leads to childhood cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social difficulties.
As dancing tones and trims these kids, they feel better about themselves, plus they have new energy and stamina that can translate into better focus on tasks like schoolwork! Also, as we know, a healthy lifestyle in youth often leads to a healthy adulthood later on.
Manners are a second great gift of ballroom dancing. Once indispensable in our society, manners have somehow gone the way of the horse and buggy—as faded as the spotlights that once lit up Fred Astaire’s stages! But our Astaire traditions will relight those spotlights. We teach proper manners because they are necessary to the whole ballroom experience.
Social skills like manners allow kids to open more doors. And our ‘manner rules’ are simple, so new dancers can quickly experience success. Here are 2 examples from Antoinette Benevento's book, Dancing Through Life (Antoinette is our beloved National Training Director and a former Pro dancer): ‘You must share. You must work together.’ (p.8) Simple, right? Then how come so many kids have so much trouble with these concepts inside and outside of our schools?
Once fitness and manners begin settling into place, ballroom crowns the dancer with its third great gift: confidence.
Why is confidence so important to kids? Because today it's too easy for them to make poor choices.
Take bullying, for example. Thirty years ago, bullies were just ‘mean kids.’ And bullied kids had few advocates and fewer skills. Parental advice was minimal, leaning to one extreme or the other: either ‘fight back’ or ‘ignore it until it goes away.’ But anyone bullied back then knows just how effective those methods weren’t!
Bullying is taken much more seriously now — because it is serious. It is "widely viewed as an urgent social, health, and education concern at the forefront of public debate on school legislation and policy in the U.S. today. Beginning with the Columbine High School massacre (1999) the trend was later fueled by a number of highly visible suicides among school-age children and adolescents that were linked to chronic bullying….."
The American Medical Association estimates that 3.2 million kids are victimized by bullies each year. A full third of all students aged 12-18 reported having been bullied at school in 2007, some almost daily, says the National Center for Education Statistics. Thus, kids need the confidence it takes to stand up to bullies, to advocate for others who are being bullied, and to not become bullies themselves. Thus, dance lessons can help them fighting bullying in 3-D style!
The Centers for Disease Control determined in 2010 that ‘Bullying thrives in an environment where students are likely to receive negative feedback and negative attention than a positive school climate that fosters respect and sets high standards for interpersonal behavior.’ In other words, it won't thrive in our studios.
How We (and You) Can Help
Kids are free to give bullying the big freeze at a Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Our business is all about creating a positive climate that values the individual, fosters respect, maintains high standards, and sets achievable goals. And, as we teach kids to have fun dancing, we also teach them confidence. Spend a few moments inside one of our schools and you’ll have all the proof you’ll
The confidence we instill comes from: taking risks, supportive teachers, making progress, stepping on toes, saying excuse me, laughing, having fun with new friends, indulging in the costumes, loving the glamour, making progress, facing a fear, finding a role model, feeling stronger, following the rules, feeling the freedom, making progress, complimenting your partner, being complimented back, learning to lead, learning to respect, winning a competition, finding out that mistakes are universal, being depending on, being dependable — and always making progress.