South Lanarkshire Active Schools launched their Dance Leader Academy in December 2018 with the aim of opening up leadership opportunities to a new, less traditionally sporty, group of pupils.
The programme attracted lots of budding dancers, mostly teenage girls, who had untapped leadership potential, with 109 dance leaders now accredited.
The dance leaders have gone on to become volunteers and role models within their learning communities, and have worked hard to adapt during lockdown and new restrictions.
Many dance leaders were disappointed that their course was cut short at the start of the pandemic, but they were still keen to help out during lockdown.
They filmed short dance tutorials that were then shared on South Lanarkshire Active Schools' Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok accounts and this proved to be very successful, receiving thousands of views and boosting engagement with young people.
During Active Girls Week schools tuned in to learn choreography and shared videos of their own pupils dancing in the playground.
Prior to lockdown, the 10th Annual Active Schools Secondary Dance Competition was held at Hamilton Townhouse in February 2020, with over 330 high school pupils taking part.
Dance Leaders from all five South Lanarkshire courses were invited to take part in a special group performance, a celebration of dance over a decade, wearing their pink Dance Leaders t-shirts.
Thirty-three girls took to the stage alongside the South Lanarkshire mascot, Leaping Leo, in a real showcase of the talent and enthusiasm the young leaders have for dance.
Tutor and PE teacher, Sarah Marshall, said: “The Dance Leaders course fits well around other leadership programmes we offer within our PE department.
"The course focusses around five main employability skills; communication, self-belief, teamwork, self-management and problem solving.
"The Dance Leaders course attracts pupils who would not necessarily choose PE as a subject, and has proven to motivate them and inspire them to engage others throughout the school and beyond."
Active Schools coordinator, Mhairi Lake, added: “It has been fantastic to see young people, mainly teenage girls, come together, learn from each other and share their love of dance.
"Although the course is a lot of fun, the pupils work extremely hard towards completing their assessments, creating choreography and are pushed outside of their comfort zones at times.
"Their passion for dance along with their boosted confidence and newly honed leadership skills has helped shape them into excellent role models in their learning communities.”
Dance leader Ellie said she had benefited hugely from taking part in the programme: “I gained so much experience from it as well as many new friends! It allowed me to grow as a leader and as a person.
"The dance leaders course also encouraged me to look into teaching as a career path. My favourite part about being a dance leader is meeting and working with new kids and seeing them have fun preparing for the festivals.”
Fellow dance leader Teagan added: "My favourite part of the course was meeting new people and learning the dance for the competition. I developed a lot of confidence through the course and also learned how to plan and prepare sessions ahead of time.”