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breathe & connect

Our Covid recovery approach for Doncaster people and artists.

Alex Mettam dances in a bright orange t-shirt in front of a colourful mural featuring leaves and trees. Alex is a dancer on the Dance On project with darts in Doncaster.

darts has received a Doncaster Cultural & Creative Additional Restrictions Grant (South Yorkshire Mayoral Authority via Doncaster Council) for a Covid-response project called Breathe & Connect.

Breathe & Connect aims to improve the health and wellbeing of very young children, and adults who have been severely impacted by Covid. Skilled artists are collaborating with health and education professionals and groups of Doncaster residents to test approaches and find new ways to improve

Adults with Long Covid and COPD

The Covid pandemic has exacerbated the prevalence of adults in Doncaster with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – diseases that cause breathing-related problems. There is also  high number of adults experiencing  Long Covid. Office of National Statistics (ONS) early research into Long Covid shows that the most common symptoms are breathlessness, fatigue, respiratory issues, memory/concentration issues, anxiety and loneliness.

Professional artists will draw on our expertise of existing dance and music programmes to develop an approach specifically designed to build stamina and lung capacity whilst improving emotional health and wellbeing. Weekly dance and music sessions will use our successful Dance On approach as a starting point for social dance activity that builds confidence, whilst gently increasing motivation and energy. Evidence from our research project with Leeds University shows that sessions increase balance and mobility and improve happiness.

Musicians will build on darts’ expertise in delivering singing programmes such as Quirky Choir and Singing for Memory. Singing exercises will build lung capacity, correct posture and increase diaphragm use, as well as calming anxiety. The social aspect of both groups will be vital to re-building confidence and connections with others.

Early child development

Covid-19 has had a significant impact both on families of 0-3 year olds, and the children themselves. Evidence from Ofsted research interviews with early years providers shows the pandemic has particularly impacted learning of young children: communication, personal, social and emotional development and gross motor skills as a result of lockdowns and isolation. Doncaster Primary Schools have told us that pupils in Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Reception and Year 1 are finding it difficult to listen, sit and concentrate, focus, take turns or interact with adults. Those for whom English is an Additional Language haven’t spoken English at home during lockdowns and have fallen behind with language development. We will work with under 3’s in two central Doncaster schools to improve communication, social and behavioural skills. Our previous early years work will inform this development.

Dance and Music Artists will design a programme of joyful and engaging early years provision that enables under-threes to make friends and mix with others in a safe environment. Creative play will encourage turn-taking, being kind and listening, whilst encouraging independent choice and decision-making. Dance and movement will focus on physical skills and gross-motor movements. Music and singing will focus on language and communication.

Breathe & Connect is a three month long project to develop approaches from January to March 2022. We are keen to extend the work and are looking for partnership opportunities for longer term development, as well as investment to deliver successful models.

If you are interested and wish to discuss the project further, please contact Lucy Robertshaw –

Young girl smiles at giraffe puppet at a darts in Doncaster workshop at The Point

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