ON POINTE: Ballet teacher Leisel Fitzgerald and Feros Village Byron Bay resident Jilly Richardson (99) with preschoolers Silvy Gohra and Florence Giutronich.
ON POINTE: Ballet teacher Leisel Fitzgerald and Feros Village Byron Bay resident Jilly Richardson (99) with preschoolers Silvy Gohra and Florence Giutronich. Contributed

Bold ballerinas on pointe

PIROUETTING pre-schoolers and chasseing seniors have proved you're never too young or old to become a ballerina.

Residents of Feros Village Byron Bay have been attending ballet lessons as part of the Feros Care Bold Ballerinas initiative that aims to improve strength, balance and flexibility through dance.

After a few classes, the dozen seniors, with an average age of 90, were joined by four-year-olds from Byron Bay Preschool and, according to Feros Care Positive Living Manager Bec Stephens, 'magic happened'.

"The ballet classes have been fantastic for the residents and you can see the positive effect it has on their mood and wellbeing,” she said.

"The residents already look forward to their ballet lessons and then when the pre-schoolers arrived, the energy lifted and there was a real joy on everyone's faces.

The Bold Ballerinas project is one of many initiatives by Feros Care to help seniors remain active and feel connected.

"Research has found that dancing improves strength and muscle function in older adults, as well as increasing balance and flexibility, leading to better stability and fewer injuries,” said Ms Stephens.

"Studies show dancing can also improve cardiovascular health, decreasing the risk of heart disease.

"Apart from the physical benefits, we have found that giving residents in our aged-care villages opportunities to try new things, rather than just being nursed, has immeasurable benefits to their overall happiness and wellbeing.”

Dance Dynamics Byron Bay ballet teacher Leisel Fitzgerald, who is also an aged care worker, said being able to combine her "two worlds” had been incredibly rewarding.

"As someone who both loves dance and works in aged care, it's been wonderful to see how the residents have embraced the classes,” she said.

"At their age it's not about fitness or becoming experts but being involved in the community, overcoming isolation and bridging the generation gap.

"The seniors enjoyed the first few classes and when the children then got involved, they were over the moon. We also weren't sure how the little ones would respond but they loved dancing with the residents.

For more on Feros Care, visit www.feroscare.com.au


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