UDA is based in the London borough of Southwark and has innovated its offering to provide services which improves mental health through physical fitness; trying to counter the increasing rate of anxiety and depression in children.
In recent years, we have seen a steady increase in two major problems within our younger generations:
1.mental health problems are now affecting a huge 1 in 8 children between 5 and 19 years old.
2.obesity effects 27% of children, this is a problem that tends to affect areas with low income, with obesity figures doubling in comparison to richer areas.
At UDA we run projects and activities that incorporates dance, gymnastics and fencing; our services include workshops, community projects, afterschool club sessions and holiday club programs in conjunction with other local businesses.
About the Program
The UDA resilience program will use dance, gymnastics and fencing as a theme for fitness based activities, while developing emotional resilience by teaching and promoting the use of 3 tools. Those 3 tools are positive affirmations, mindfulness and goal setting. Our coaches for this program will not only be physical educators, but also mentors trained to support the mental health of children and to create a safe space for them to build both confidence and physical skills. Studies have proven that physical and mental health are so closely linked, when one depreciates, so does the other and vice versa. This program will pair the strengthening of both together to encourage children and young people to stay in shape and learn about their mental wellbeing at the same time.
Our plan is to deliver the program in schools as part of extra curriculum activities, we have chosen to do this because it gives as wider access to young people plus it also allows young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to be able to access this program through their school.
As we have a sport element to our program, once we have shown our impact through a pilot, if the school would like to continue with our program they can then use their sports premium; which is an allocated fund from the government of up to £20,000 that schools can use on sports.
How the program works:
- The program is made up of 3 progressive pathways
- we have primary (5-11yrs) programs and secondary (12-16yrs) programs
- We have designed a program dedicated to year 6 to help with the transition from primary to secondary school.
- The program is taught across 3 terms (autumn, spring, summer)
- Each terms is 10 weeks, 1 session per week, each session is an hour
- 30 - 45mins are spent on physical activity,15 -20mins spent on mental strength training.
- 3 choices for physical activity: lets fence (learning emotional resilience through sport fencing), Lets dance (learning emotional resilience through street dance) and Lets gym (learning emotional resilience through stretching and gymnastics)
- Each term has an area of focus which are as follows:
- Be unique - which explores self esteem, constructive criticism, confidence and what makes you, you?
- Dream Big - what do you want to be when you grow up?
- Stay Ambitious - how to stay focused, new healthy habits and success.
About the Founder
I, Katrina Thomas am the founder and director of UDA, I have a background in dance, fencing and gymnastics. When I became a mother to a son with ADHD, I changed my dance career to accommodate for my number one priority while continuing my passion for dance.
UDA was born when my son was diagnosed with ADHD, leading to anxiety and depression. I used ball games, dancing and calisthenics paired with homework to reprogram the way my son learned, to reset his relationship with education and manage his emotions.
While working with my son at home, I was coaching dance and sports both in schools and the community. Over the years I slowly introduced the methods I was using at home with other children and I've seen amazing results in the mental wellbeing of the children I encounter. Physical wellbeing is strongly linked with confidence and resilience and it’s been proven that a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand.
How We Will Use The Funds Raised
The resilience program was due to be released in September 2020 however, because of Covid 19 I have altered the program slightly so that the program can be delivered by us; or a school can buy the program and we'll teach them how to deliver. The reason for these changes is because schools now have to teach using social bubbles and some will not be using external providers for a while.
Funds raised for this project will cover:
- costs for the design and print of programs
- staff and teacher training
- Equipment for the program i.e. fencing kit, each school will need to have their own due to social distancing rules.
- 10 pilots of the program in schools in the borough of Southwark.