Dance for Lifelong Health

Organization Associated with Program
UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine
PO Box 100326
Gainesville, Florida 32610

In Alachua County, Florida, Shands Arts in Medicine conducts Dance for Lifelong Health, free weekly dance workshops for fun, fitness, and creativity that are focused on the needs of participants over the age of 60. Workshops are organized around various themes and use dance techniques including jazz, modern, social, and diverse national styles that contribute to experiencing the joy of motion. By creating an original dance each week, participants have fun with others, develop a sense of accomplishment, and help retain independence by maintaining and enhancing fitness. Classes are led by a professional teaching artist. There are 18 to 50 participants in each class, with about 300 older adults served in 2012.

Program History

The program was developed in 2008 under the auspices of Dance for [Long] Life through a grant from the Florida Department of Cultural Affairs, and was conducted at the Oak Hammock, a community affiliated with the University of Florida Shands. The program had pre-, mid-, and post-questionnaires, documentation, as well as a culminating performance as part of the Shands Atrium concert series. The next year Shands Arts in Medicine received a grant to fund the development of community health programs in the new Criser Cancer Resource Center of Shands Cancer Hospital. Dance for Seasoned Citizens was created in the new center, to maintain the health of older adults. Classes were opened to drop-ins but had no culminating event because of its rotating clientele. Since 2009 the program has been funded by the Shands continuing care retirement community. In 2012, the name Dance for Lifelong Health was adopted, and in August of that year the class was moved to the new Senior Recreation Center of Alachua County to accommodate the growing number of participants. The number of participants increased greatly because of the new venue’s larger parking capacity and access to public transportation. 

Program Assessments and Evaluations

The first year, the program conducted a post-survey for program participants. In subsequent years, program staff have administered an evaluation periodically throughout the year (since programs are ongoing with no conclusion). Evaluations are used in the planning process for future programming.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Parking and transportation can be a difficult hurdle to overcome when starting a new program. It would be of value to work with parking authorities to find a solution before starting the program.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Participate in a Class
Arts Discipline: Dance
Interdisciplinary Connections: Education, Health / Medicine
Target Audience: Active Adults, Caregivers - Family
Program Setting: Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center)
Program Service Area: Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice