About five years ago I was approached to be a judge on a dance competition for the British Red Cross. Back then, Dance for Life, was a small event in Hampshire with a few local groups of young people taking part and a low-key final in Romsey. The event raised £500.
This year 5000 young people competed for a place in the final which took place at the O2 in London in July. Over 400 young finalists from all over the UK, showcasing numerous different genres, and with varying abilities, performed to a hugely receptive and appreciative audience of 2000.
Dance for Life was the vision of Laura Deacon, a keen and passionate dancer who saw this as a way of engaging local young people in the work of the Red Cross in a new, fun way whilst also raising money for all the great work the charity does all around the world. In its short life, around 30,000 young people have taken part in Dance for Life whilst raising £250,000 for the Red Cross.
In July, Laura was awarded a Badge of Honour for Devoted Service an award given to staff who have demonstrated their personal commitment and involvement beyond the call of duty to the Red Cross and its work. When asked what she was most proud of about Dance for Life, Laura stated “The Dance for Life family we have built and the thousands of young people that have worked so hard to promote the amazing work of the charity and have produced some of the most emotive and thought provoking dances.”
Ever modest, when speaking to Laura she mentioned that she would have been unable to achieve what she has without the help of all the other stakeholders involved in this event – including participants, teachers, choreographers and of course Red Cross staff and volunteers. This may be so, but without one person taking the initiative, and galvanising others, life-changing events like this would not happen.
And it is indeed life-changing. On so many levels. Not only for the participants taking part – imagine performing at the O2 – but also the lives changed from the money raised by this event. The Red Cross continues to work in parts of the world that is affected by drought, famine, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Without its work, and the money raised to keep it going, many more would die. So, when those young people take to the stage at the O2, having fund-raised money as part of this journey, they are literally Dancing for Life – for the lives of others. And what could be more enriching and satisfying than that?
For more on Dance for Life visit http://www.redcross.org.uk/Get-involved/Events/Dance-for-Life