In conversation with Lily, a young dancer

Last updated: 20 Sept 2023 Topics: Safeguarding children

Safeguarding is key to ensuring that children and young people have a safe and enjoyable time taking part in their chosen sport or activity.

We wanted to hear from a young person about their personal experience of their sporting life.

In this blog we spoke to Lily, a young dancer, and posed some questions to her about taking part in dance to find out what sport means for her.

Lily, which sports do you take part in?

''Dance, mainly contemporary and ballet, but also pointe, modern, commercial, jazz, hip hop and lyrical.''

(Photographer, Dean Farmer)

What do you love about the sports club or activity you’re involved in?

''Dance is a passion and makes me feel free. I can express myself and feel joy. At the Centre for Advance Training and companies I dance with, I feel safe and happy.

''I train at a centre for advance training , this is a scheme run by the Education Department together with professional dance companies and offers high-quality level of training. As part of the program, we also train with a professional company.

''All of the staff are highly qualified and industry professionals. They all care about the dancers as individuals and our long-term wellbeing and success, not just caring about winning medals now. We don’t do any competitions but focus on performance.

''We have time to think about our goals and review our progress. We have support with injury prevention and rehab if we do suffer from an injury. We experience what it is like to be in a professional performance environment. We really are being prepared for a career in dance.’’

What makes you feel safe in sport?

''Knowing that all of the adults around me genuinely care about my physical and mental well-being. They want me to succeed for myself, not to make them look good. I feel listened to and trust all of my teachers. They challenge me and celebrate my success. They give me time and support when I need it.

''I know that my parents have regular reviews with my staff and have written reports during the year, so they always know how I’m doing and know the staff well enough to talk to them at any time. The staff value positive relationships with parents and make lots of opportunities to share our work and progress through performances and parent meetings.

''This program is monitored by the Education Department and has strict criteria about what we are taught and the support we are given. Knowing that there is an organisation overseeing the provision is reassuring. I know that in many dance schools this is not the case.''

Do you know who you can talk to in your sports club or activity if you have a worry or concern?

''Any of my staff! They are all really caring and helpful. I know who is in charge and he is the loveliest, most supportive person. He always makes me feel that he has time for any of us and makes time to talk whenever we need it.

''If things go wrong or dancers have a problem, it’s important that they have someone overseeing the provision that they can go to and share their concerns.’’

Is your opinion and voice heard within your sports club or activity?

''Definitely. We are asked our opinion about guest teachers, performance, costume, the program itself and we are able to influence what happens in the future. For example, we have asked for specific guest teachers and the team have worked hard to get them in to train us.’’

Do you feel valued and listened to within your sports club or activity?

''Yes, because I see the changes we ask for being made. Everyone is equally valued, and we are a wonderful diverse mix of dancers aged from 11-19 years. We all value each other too and have become really good friends. Everyone looks after each other and supports each other.’’

What are you proud of within your sporting life, activities or hobbies?

''That I can work hard and I am on my own journey. I have lots of friends all over the country and know that we all want to see each other succeed. It’s lovely to be proud of each other and celebrate our successes. There are so many wonderful teachers and opportunities in this industry.

''I’m looking forward to the next few years, developing as a dancer and performer and becoming a professional when I finish my degree.’’