Dance for health: The importance of community engagement and project sustainability

Jodi L. Feinberg, Cory Bowman, Terri H. Lipman


Dance for Health is an intergenerational approach to increasing activity, reducing the risk of obesity, and improving health awareness in an urban community. The purpose of this research was to explore the impact of community engagement in Dance for Health on graduate nurse practitioner (NP) students and inner city high school (HS) students, and to describe the factors that impact project sustainability. Qualitative surveys were administered to all students to explore their experience with community engagement. Attendance was taken and quantitative surveys were administered to community participants to evaluate the factors impacting sustainability of the intervention. We deduced the following themes from the student surveys: 1) Intergenerational togetherness, 2) Positive environment, 3) Increased awareness, 4) HS student leaders, 5) Health careers exposure for HS students, 6) Community exposure for NP students, 7) Rewarding collaboration. Eighty-eight percent of community participants continued to attend the events two months after the University involvement ceased.  Community participants most commonly responded that they attended the events because it was good exercise, fun, safe, and made them “feel good”. Students who were involved stated that engagement in a community-driven, culturally relevant intervention enriched their education and leadership skills. To increase this kind of activity and improve community health overtime, universities must promote sustainability of their interventions by partnering with communities to understand their goals and priorities, and providing a culturally relevant, positive environment for physical activity and education.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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