Northern Ballet’s children’s centre session reaching more than ever before

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MORE children than ever before are getting the chance to try dance through creative play sessions that bring stories for life.

Northern Ballet’s Children’s Centre project is now working with 50 children from across the city as it continues to grow, up from 31 last year.

Children from the Meanwood Children's Centre, at Northern Ballet's 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' session in March 2014. Picture by Simon Hulme

Children from the Meanwood Children's Centre, at Northern Ballet's 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' session in March 2014. Picture by Simon Hulme

Now in its seventh year, the project, which is supported by Wade’s Charity, targets children from areas that have the least engagement with the arts.

Children from Hovingham Primary School, Castleton and Quarry Mount Children’s Centres, and, for the first time, Little London and Shakespeare Children’s Centres, are taking part in the project.

During five weeks, the children will explore popular children’s books We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak through movement, music, props, storytelling and multisensory play. Northern Ballet will also offer staff training sessions for the participating centres, allowing the project’s legacy to continue.

The Children’s Centres project is led by Northern Ballet’s Dance Education Officer Sophie Alder, who said: “The children have enjoyed exploring new ways to move and the project has had a very positive impact on their communication skills, confidence and emotional development.

Youngsters taking part in last year's Children's Centre project. Photo: Gavin Joynt.

Youngsters taking part in last year's Children's Centre project. Photo: Gavin Joynt.

“For children’s centre staff, this project provides a unique opportunity to work alongside a professional dance company to develop their skills, increase their confidence and give them new ideas to include more movement play into their work after the project has ended.”

Caroline Tompkins, Early Years Leader and teacher at Wortley’s Castleton Children’s Centre said: “Working with Northern Ballet for the second year running has had a huge impact on the confidence, language skills and body-awareness of our two year olds.

“Sophie and the team have inspired both staff and children alike, creating new opportunities for children to express themselves, explore their environment and develop self-esteem in many magical ways. It has provided a great talking point and links with families and the world beyond their doorstep.”

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