Concept 2: 100% participation

100% participation is a core concept of sitdance. Not understanding this concept can raise doubt about the benefits of sitdance. The following story taught me a lot about 100% participation and the benefits this programme

The two second smile

One week a man in a wheelchair was brought into the activities room for a sitdance session. He sat slumped in his wheelchair, with his head resting on his chest. As far as I could see he never moved a muscle. He looked seemingly unresponsive. I wondered how he benefitted from the programme if at all. A moment later I could stop wondering.

he looked

With great difficulty he raised his head from his chest. He managed to raise it just high enough so our eyes could meet. He succeeded in holding his head up for two seconds, just long to give me the biggest possible smile. Then his head dropped back on his chest where it stayed for the rest of the session.

That two-second smile taught me a lot. This man really enjoyed the session, even though he was physically unable to move his body. He was unable to talk so I can only speculate why he enjoyed sitdance so much. Maybe he liked the music (participating emotionally). Maybe he enjoyed being with other people having fun (participating socially). Maybe he was visualizing himself sitdancing ,or in other words, dancing in his mind’s eye (participating mentally). Maybe he enjoyed remembering times when he could dance (participating mentally).

being present
100% participation

What I can say for sure is that he was enjoying the session and thus participating. I had to accept that being present meant 100% participation for this man. After that session I never doubted if anyone present was benefitting. That is why it is so important to get residents in the room, even if they don’t want to participate and ‘just watch’.

In the welcome video I state that I will be giving my 100%, that I will do the dances as good as I can, and that I expect the participants to do it as good as they can. Indeed, I expect participants to give their 100%. This means that I encourage and accept any form or level of participation.

I expect their 100%
no matter how little that may seem

Remember staff and volunteers that you are rolemodels and that participants will look to you for guidance, so give it as much as you can.

For some people this means doing it just like me
For some people this means tapping along with their toes or fingers
For some people this means being present in the room
For some people this means listening to the music
Any level of participation is OK as long as it is a person’s 100% participation.

I doubt it if this man would have smiled at a video of me. So this story makes a case for having a dance instructor present in person, with or without the DVD playing at the same time. If you would like to learn how to teach sit dance using the CD only please visit the Professional Development page.