Tap dancing helping to stamp out social isolation
An intrepid 10 customers from our extra care retirement schemes in Coventry made the news this week when their tap dancing project was featured on BBC TV's Midlands Today.
The tappers – who are aged from 65 to 87 – are participating in an initiative aimed at combatting social isolation and loneliness in retirement and were interviewed about it by journalist Joan Cummins and filmed during class.
The two-month project involves customers from Poppy Court, Bevan Court, Willowbrook and Princethorpe Court who are working with Steph Ridings, a professional writer interested in the issue of social isolation.
Their weekly sessions include learning to tap dance for a performance at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in March but also having opportunity to get to know fellow tappers over a cuppa and to share their life experiences.
Customer 74-year-old Margaret, said: “If you can do it, you can do it. It’s no good sitting on your backside and thinking you might do it. Do it. Then you will know whether you can or can't. It really does you good, having a bit of fun.”
Former intensive care nurse Marian, aged 87, said: “As you get older I think exercise is so important, whether it’s 10 minutes, 20 minutes.”
Rose, aged 85, who was once a taxi driver in the city, said: “I don’t know if it’s good for the figure but I have lost weight since we started!” while retired florist 75-year-old Patricia, added: “It keeps the joints working. If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Steph, who is running the project, explained: “It doesn't matter how old you are; it doesn't matter if you have to sit down to tap and you clap instead of tapping. It’s about bringing people together and having a really lovely time. It is a little bit chaotic at times but the energy is amazing. It’s really good fun.”
Steph is pictured below with tap teacher Stuart and happy tapper Rose.
Wayne Exton, our Lifestyle Change Manager, said: “We’re all really excited about this project because it’s a fantastic opportunity to challenge stereotypes about the kind of activities older people enjoy doing and it shows that you can learn a new skill or take up a new hobby at any stage of your life.
“Tap Dancing is loud and energetic, it’s fun, good for our health and wellbeing and it tackles social isolation. Our customers taking part are thoroughly enjoying coming to the sessions which have really built their confidence. I can’t wait for the show at the theatre; it will be a massive achievement for us all.”
Dancewear manufacturer Roch Valley has donated tap shoes for the project, whilst Asda is donating refreshments to keep the group going through their sessions.
It is hoped the pilot project will lead to a much bigger event with groups across the city demonstrating many different types of dance to mark Coventry City of Culture 2021.