Focus on Coaching - Shannon Searle
Posted on 17th January 2022 at 11:22
Shannon joined the team in 2020 and is our Coach in Colchester, Clacton and Witham.
What is your role at Sport For Confidence and how did you get started?
I first became aware of SFC back in September 2019 when a dance instructor friend asked me whether I might take over her Sport For Confidence dance session at Witham Leisure Centre on a Thursday. I only had to observe one session and I was hooked!
What started as a single, weekly session at Witham Leisure Centre has now grown into a full time coaching role which also incorporates sessions at Leisure Word Colchester and Clacton Leisure Centre.
Your specialism is dance and performing arts. Can you tell us a little bit about your background in this field and how that lead you to your SFC coaching role?
I started dancing at the age of seven and have ALWAYS loved performing. I am lucky to have been given opportunities to film adverts & TV Series as well as performing at amazing venues such as Disneyland Paris.
When I graduated from performing arts college I studied for and achieved a number of fitness qualifications. Following this, I followed my dream to travel and work in America. There, I managed to secure a job at a Health & Fitness camp in Pennsylvania where I got to coach and play sports all day, every day for four months. This was a hugely valuable experience. It built my confidence and practical skills. By the time I returned to England I was a much more experienced instructor and I continued to coach a variety of dance disciplines including ballet, street dance and Acrobatic Arts. It was after about 3 months that I was invited to get involved with Sport For Confidence.
Why is dance such a great form of physical activity and how do you adapt your coaching to enable full inclusivity?
How long have you got? I could talk about dance all day long! Dance is a form of self expression and this makes it naturally pretty inclusive. Everybody can enjoy dance regardless of age or ability. It does not need to be technically perfect or highly choreographed, it can simply be a sequence of movements inspired by the soul. It can also be performed standing or seated, by old or by young.
Music is incredibly emotive too. Everyone has a song that gets their feet tapping. I’m here to help our participants to find their song. Sometimes, simply listening to the music is enough to inspire a happy memory or counter any feelings of stress.
Dance is also a great way to meet people and enjoy the company of others. People of all abilities can get involved in a single session, promoting cohesion and equality. Dance is a great leveller.
What health and wellbeing benefits are you witnessing in SFC participants that take part in your sessions?
Improved confidence, and self-esteem, independence and expression of identity as well as improved memory, coordination and stamina.
How many sessions do you run a week? Typically how many participants are you catering for on a weekly or monthly basis
I currently deliver 13 in-person sessions a week at various leisure venue and this continues to grow as demand increases. Each session generally attracts between 6 to 20 participants. I also deliver virtual dance sessions on the Sport For Confidence digital platform – Stay Connected. This helps those who are unable to leave their home engage with our community and maintain their levels of physical activity.
I absolutely love my work with Sport For Confidence. It’s hard to imagine a more rewarding job. I am reminded on a daily basis of the joy people feel when they are encouraged to move to music. I gain huge satisfaction from observing participants as they let themselves be consumed by the moment. Dance has always been a huge part of my life and being able to share it with such a wonderful community is a real privilege.
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