Free dance classes for youngsters

YOUNGSTERS with weight issues are being given free dance classes as part of a pioneering project to get them fitter at Stowmarket's health centre.

YOUNGSTERS with weight issues are being given free dance classes as part of a pioneering project to get them fitter at Stowmarket's health centre.

DanceEast have secured £12,000 in funding from the Suffolk Strategic Partnership (SSP) for the idea run largely at the StowHealth centre in Stowmarket as a way of tackling obesity, with weight related problems costing the NHS millions of pounds a year.

Get Movin' offers fun sessions and workshops with the aim of increasing fitness levels and encouraging youngsters to lead a healthier life.

But The Taxpayers' Alliance has criticised the initiative and says that money would be far better spent on public health during a recession when every penny counts.

Dr Louise Skioldebrand, a GP and partner at the surgery, said weekly dance sessions are combined with workshops which include advice about good nutrition.

She said: “I believe this is the first of its kind, I do not know of any other projects like this. The focus is on general good health, a healthy lifestyle and there is advice about portion control, and healthy cookery.”

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The SSP was set up in 2001 in order to improve the quality of life of the people in Suffolk and Fiona Speed, a spokeswoman for DanceEast, said the project is designed to tackle obesity in young people.

Suffolk Primary Care Trust committed several thousand pounds to pay for the first 40 patients to see a personal trainer twice weekly for six weeks at the practice. Usually it would have cost them about £75 each.

Mark Wallace, campaign director for The Taxpayers' Alliance, said: “In the middle of a recession when every penny of taxpayers' money counts there is not the room in people's budgets to fund this kind of programme.

“In terms of public health people are struggling to get appointments, or being made to wait for essential medical treatment, which should surely be a priority above dancing lessons.”