Dancing Well: The Soldier Project
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Dancing Well: The Soldier Project is a two-year program to provide restorative community dance experiences to veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). Through a dance experience uniquely tailored to the needs of afflicted veterans and their families, these individuals will benefit from the powerful healing, bonding, and socialization offered by traditional music and dance.
In a similar program offered to soldiers with PTSD and TBI at the VA Healthcare Center in Fort Knox, Kentucky, 100% of participating soldiers reported:
- improved physical health
- decreased sense of anxiety
- feeling more at ease around a group
- improved outlook on the future
- benefits from socializing and networking with other soldiers and families
In addition, 90% reported that their memory, mood, and relationships with others had improved, and 50% reported a decrease in their physical pain level.
“There is a real need for programs like this for soldiers and veterans with PTSD and TBI. The dancing helped their pain level, it helped their memory, and it helped with their anxiety. For some, it provided an outlet for the whole family. It gave them something fun to do together, and they all seemed to blossom.”
Edwin O. Walker, MD, MSPH. Staff psychiatrist, Ft. Knox dance series
Dancing Well hopes to achieve similar outcomes in four dance series for veterans with PTSD and TBI to be held in the first year of the program. Each dance series will feature ten ninety-minute sessions of family dance for veterans, their spouses, and their children 10 and over. Sessions will include live music, refreshments, child care for younger children, and experienced volunteers to dance with veterans lacking a partner. Dances taught will be traditional “barn dances” with simple steps, a dance caller, and small group interaction.
Watch a 9 minute video about Dancing Well:
Red for Right HandRed ribbons help those with PTSD or TBI tell their right hand from their left during the dance sessions. They become a "Red Badge of Courage" for the group, bringing everyone together and helping those who are not struggling with PTSD or TBI understand those who are.
The program will also include development and implementation of a comprehensive curriculum to train dance callers, VA activities directors, social workers, dance therapists, and others to facilitate traditional dance responsibly and effectively with afflicted veterans and their families.
Dancing Well will be piloted in Louisville, Kentucky, with logistical and recruitment support from the Robley Rex VA Medical Center and the Veterans’ Voices of Kentuckiana Mental Health Consumer Council, but it will ultimately become a national program, positively impacting thousands of veterans and families.
The project has earned the support of Country Dance and Song Society, a national non-profit organization supporting traditional dance and song, which is serving as fiscal sponsor for this phase of The Soldier Project. If you would like more information about the project or wish to be notified of future trainings, please contact Deborah Denenfeld.
Please support this important work with your financial contribution. No donation is too small or too large. When you click on the link at right, you will be directed to a webpage of Country Dance and Song Society, where you can enter the details of your donation.
Thank you for doing your part to bring the restorative power of music and dance to afflicted veterans and their families!
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Disclaimer: Dancing Well is not a member of, or affiliated with, The American Dance Therapy Association, and classes are not run by licensed therapists. Dancing Well is not intended to be therapy, and our progamming is provided for recreational and social purposes only.
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