Dance…Food for the soul

To dance is to give oneself up to the rhythms of life, our heartbeat and human pulsations. Dance is a song of the body, an expression of oneself and beyond oneself.

Dance has many benefits in the early developmental stages of a child’s life which will set the foundation for life skills needed in this pressurized world we live in today.

Before the age of 7 years – children need to have a multitude of whole body sensory experiences in order to develop strong bodies and minds.

Dance and especially BALLET helps develop these senses.

  • Children have to pay attention, therefore discipline, concentration and listening skills are reinforced.
  • The co-ordination of their bodies helps develop their motor and cognitive skills.
  • Self-confidence is improved, through encouragement in class and later performing onstage.
  • The awareness of correct posture is taught and the benefits of this training is evident in the general health and wellbeing of the dancers.
  • Music is an integral part of dance and we are told that this is a form of nutrition for the brain. When combining music and dance, the whole body and mind is being stimulated.
  • Physical exercise means more oxygen is getting to the brain and healthy ‘feel good’ hormones are released, creating happier children.
  • Dance enhances creativity and imagination and can be a welcome respite from the stresses of everyday life.
  • With children who may have learning difficulties, it assists them mentally and physiologically – improving their capacity to access learning.
  • Dance is hard work and through perseverance and determination children learn the value of “not giving up” and it teaches them the concept of ‘practice makes perfect’.

DANCE is a wonderful forum for establishing creative expression, sound discipline and healthy physical fitness and core strength so often lacking in young children today!


“The small child at dancing class may never become a professional dancer – but the courtesies and disciplines, as well as the joy in movement, will touch her/him forever”

                                         [Helen Thomson b 1943]


Jacqui Weddell Dance Studio (ARAD AIDT)

Contact: 082 823 8821


Sports Drinks

Approximately 25% of South African children and adolescents are currently either overweight or obese. One factor driving this is the excessive consumption of sugar and other refined carbohydrates.  A common source of refined carbohydrate in our children’s diets comes in the form of sports drinks that may also contain minerals, electrolytes and sometimes vitamins.  These drinks are aggressively marketed to children and adolescents – they claim to enhance performance, and to replace fluid and electrolytes during and after exercise. Incidentally, sports drinks are not necessarily healthier than carbonated soft drinks, as often promoted.

Careful consideration is needed when choosing what and how much to give your child during and after physical activity in order to prevent excessive sugar and calorie intake that could contribute to the problem of overweight and obesity. The South African Institute for Drug Free Sport offers some useful advice. For the average child or adolescent involved in routine physical activity, a sports drink is typically unnecessary and water only should be encouraged for optimal hydration. Only those young people engaged in vigorous, long-duration and/or high-volume training could benefit from a sports drink that is carefully considered and planned within a well-balanced dietary intake.

Only where exercise levels are high and prolonged (typically more than 60-90 minutes) could a sports drink be beneficial to help meet the energy requirement needed to sustain exercise capacity and performance in both youth and adults. As far as electrolyte replenishment goes, sports drinks typically do not contain very high amounts of these, but replenishment can be achieved by eating natural, unprocessed food before or after exercise. The same applies to the vitamin and mineral content of sports drinks.

Similar to regular cool drinks, excessive sports drink ingestion adds significant calories without adding any other nutritional value. This could compromise optimal growth, development, body composition and health, especially in those who do not exercise sufficiently to warrant sports drink ingestion. A well-balanced dietary intake is encouraged as the best and safest way to get the full range of nutrients the body needs for energy, growth and development. Children and adolescents should have free access to water throughout the day and during exercise, and should drink water routinely as the first beverage of choice.

Let’s get back to basics and encourage our children to drink simple, old fashioned tap water.

Dr Glenn Hagemann

MBChB. Dip Anaes. MedSci

(Sport Medicine)

031 312 1136


As the 2016 rugby and hockey seasons are upon us, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about concussion as this condition is often not always managed optimally.  As these sports evolve, players are generally becoming bigger, fitter and faster, and games are played at a greater intensity.  It is believed that at least 15% of high school rugby players will suffer a concussive episode in any one season, and many of these are not recognised or diagnosed.

The first important point to note is that concussion is a functional injury to the brain, not a structural one meaning that a brain scan (CT or MRI) is invariably normal. The diagnosis of concussion is primarily a clinical one, and brain scans are only requested by your doctor if more serious structural damage to the brain, like an intracerebral bleed, is suspected; in which case this is no longer classified as concussion.  It is also often mistakenly thought that one has to be knocked out to have suffered a concussion. This is not so and merely seeing stars after a knock may be diagnostic.

All concussed players should be seen by a doctor, primarily to determine whether referral to hospital is necessary, and secondarily for advice to be offered regarding the short term care of the concussed individual.  As the brain is affected, patients are usually advised to rest completely until all symptoms of the concussion have resolved.  This rest applies to both physical and mental activity and schoolwork, computer games, watching TV and similar activities must be discouraged for the initial few days.  For players 18 years old and younger, a minimum 2 week mandatory rest period is enforced. Thereafter, once the player has recovered completely in terms of any symptoms, a computerised neuropsychological test like Impact should be conducted to support the clinical decision.  Should the results of this test be normal, the player can then resume a stepwise return to play protocol involving increasing the intensity of training over a 5 day period.  Should the player’s symptoms not recur during this time, then he/she will be declared fit to participate in contact sport again. World Rugby encourages all concussed players to be cleared by an appropriately qualified doctor before returning to play.

There are no shortcuts to managing concussion and doctors often have to resist the persuasive efforts of some parents and coaches to allow their son or daughter to play again prematurely.  A concussive episode sensitises the brain to further damage both in the short term and in the long term, and it is certainly not in the player’s, parents’, coaches or team’s best interests to take this risk.

Fortunately 80-90% of concussions resolve within three weeks – this is a relatively short time to sit out considering the potential implications of returning to play too soon.  For more detailed information on concussion go to

Dr Glen Hagemann

MBChB. Dip Anaes. MedSci

(Sport Medicine)

031 – 312 1136 or

031 – 312 7506

For many parents the idea of extra-mural activities means exorbitant fees and driving endlessly – This may be partly true, but encouraging your child to play a team sport each season is an important part of growing up.

Most schools offer team sports as part of their educational package, and for many pupils these are the highlight of their school week. Being part of a team (no matter at what level) provides an important sense of belonging and identity. Children’s self-esteem is often built on acceptance into a group, and being a member of a team provides this.

The advantages of healthy exercise for a young, growing body are obvious, but there are far more underlying benefits of playing a team sport.

It teaches the skill of being organised, e.g. getting to all the practises on time, keeping fit, having the right kit packed and being organised to fit in your studying as well as your sport , are all valuable life skills.


Being a team player:

  • A team situation nurtures the skills of learning to accept the strengths and weaknesses in others, as well as one’s own – and having to work together towards a common goal. Children    recognise the importance of not only putting their trust in their team mates but also being

someone the rest of the team can count on!

  • It demands unselfishness; the value of encouragement; the importance of facing challenges with a positive mind set and determination; the importance of self – discipline commitment; accountability and responsibility.
  • Winning with humility or losing while retaining a sense of personal fulfilment and enjoyment. Disappointments are shared and so are the emotional highs and camaraderie of being part of a team.
  • Leadership skills can only be developed where there are others to follow, while accepting the need to conform and follow at times, is also a vital skill.
  • Lasting bonds and friendships are founded on the sportsfield.


With so many positive spinoffs, who can afford to not make the sacrifices to encourage your child to participate in team sports?


Nici Hilliar, Chelsea Preparatory School


How wonderful! Nothing can be more beneficial to the holistic development of a child than an involvement in the Arts.

It doesn’t matter whether it is Ballet or Ballroom, Spanish or Hip Hop, Contemporary or Capoeira, Tap or Irish – the intense and dedicated study of dance develops so much more than poise, grace, fitness, musicality, co-ordination and strength.

Socialization, self- assessment, memory training, humility and perseverance are all integral aspects of dance.


In the words of Dr Eduard Greyling – Ex-professional dancer, Laban Notator and

Patron of the Cecchetti Society of SA:

“Dance training, whether for the purpose of preparing the professional or for the sheer joy of organized movement, has an unprecedented place in our society.

Stimulated by music, dance is a language whose words are movements of the body in time and space”


Dance can be categorised as “social”, “recreational” or “vocational”.

In my experience, anyone aspiring to take their dance training to a vocational level should have ballet as the basis on which all the other genres are built, and versatility is the name of the game.

The question often arises – which method should I study?

All methods lay the basic foundation and have their individual values – the differences are merely style. I have been extremely fortunate to have been involved in dance for most of my life, and can highly recommend it as a vocation or as a hobby.

There are several societies, with branches in KZN, whose members are qualified teachers, offering tuition in the many different dance genres. Contact them to find a teacher near you.

                                                                             Minette de Klerk (Minette De Klerk Dance Academy)


Royal Academy of Dance: (Ballet) Jenny Walter Girout (Secretary) 031-5641498

Cecchetti Society of KZN: Hannah Brophy Bosch (Secretary) 072 519 3960

A.I.D.T.A. Modern and Tap: Di Drake (Chairlady) 084 514 7989

I.S.T.D. Modern, Tap, Ballet, National: Michelle Clark 072 483 6222

Spanish Dance Society: (Flamenco, Regional and Classic) Penny Lundell 076 680 0890

T.D. A. (Modern Tap Hip Hop and Ballet: Fiona Barnes

S.A.D.T.A. (Latin Ballroom and Line Dance): Janelle Yuni 084 474 0531

S.A.D.T.A. (Belly Dance): Senta Duffield 082 829 3658

S.A.S.A.D. (Various Dance Genres): Cathy Barry 031 5641498


It will serve parents well to keep in mind that balance is the key word for any growing child’s diet! An ‘over-dose’ of ANY food type may not be good for us all.

Many parents may know about recent developments in the dietary field – and also about the theory of our own Professor Tim Noakes, one of our leading medical scientists.

Professor Noakes’ views have been well covered in the media – with praise as well as criticism from various sectors. In Brief: Having worked with numerous athletes, etc. he promotes a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. In principle, it is nothing new, having been previously described in diets such as the Atkins and Duken diets decades ago.

He challenges conventional dietary views about a high carbohydrate; low fat diet – believing it appears to be the cause of our obesity problem. The question of what should constitute a healthy diet for long and active lives is inadequately answered by current ‘expert’ opinion.

Fifty years ago, only a small fraction of the world’s population was obese or had diabetes. Something has changed dramatically over this time, as we are more overweight today than ever before; with more than 60% of our adult population overweight or obese.

Our children also are not spared obesity: a recent Discovery Vitality survey showed that 25% of children are overweight / obese. What has changed? Seemingly two factors played a leading role in this: we were told to eat more carbohydrates and less fat, and our consumption of sugar specifically increased – as conventional dietary advice resulted in changed eating patterns. The increase in overweight people seems to mirror increased carbohydrate ingestion and the drastically decreased consumption of butter (38% in the US) – with sugar going up 41% in the last fifty years.

Obesity related diseases such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis, liver disease, cancer, and gall bladder disease are thus closely related to these changes in diet.

All parties do agree that we should not ingest a significant load of refined carbohydrates, like sugar, white bread, and rice – which are rapidly digested and absorbed. This causes a spike in insulin and drives glucose into the muscle and liver, converting excess blood sugar into fat. This continuous spiking of insulin levels ultimately leads to heart disease and diabetes.

If you want your children to grow up to be healthy adults, cut out the fizzy drinks, sports drinks, breakfast cereals, potato crisps, biscuits and sweets. Give them more protein like fish, meat, chicken, and eggs with plenty of vegetables, and importantly, unsaturated fat in the form of nuts, olive oil, and avos.

Don’t burn Professor Noakes at the stakes just yet, as the more I research this topic, the more I believe that our eating habits are going to change significantly over the next decade or so – despite us still needing much solid research to find the solution.


Dr Glen Hagemann – practising sports medicine practitioner – Sharks Medical Centre, Kings Park Stadium


Regular exercise is well-known to have a myriad of benefits. From improved work-place success in the young adult to a lower risk of coronary artery disease in the elderly, regular exercise is good for all ages. However, this is an adult notion – no child participates in sport to avoid a heart attack. Still, the behaviour of adults and the decisions they make significantly influences the sports participation of children.

Here are some check points for parents with regard to children and sport.

  • Parents’ attitude to regular exercise significantly determines the future exercise participation of their children. In fact, the example set by parents has already established the future attitudes of their children by the time they are 10 – 12 years old. Interestingly, it appears that the mother’s example is more important than that of the father.
  • Similarly, the sports participation of children is a significant predictor of young adults’ participation in sports and physical exercise. A study published in the Youth and Society journal in 2004 showed that adolescents who play a sport are eight times more likely to be active as young adults, than those adolescents who don’t play sport.
  • Over the past few decades there has been a substantial decline in sports participation by children in the developed world. A study from The Aspen Institute in America, found that amongst the primary causes were the parents’ concerns about the risk of injury, the quality of coaches, the cost and time commitment required, and the emphasis of winning over having fun. While some of these parental concerns may be valid, the net result is potentially harmful to their children.
  • The era of informal play by children appears to be all but gone, a fact confirmed by research done in the USA in 2010 by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. In addition to the numerous psychosocial benefits of so-called ‘free play’, this form of exercise has been shown to produce higher levels of physical activity than organized sports. Unfortunately, after extra academic lessons, music tuition, organized sports training and vast amounts of homework, children simply don’t have the time to play anymore.
  • Organised, competitive sport certainly has its merits, but it more often than not precludes the active involvement of the family. The International Federation of Sports Medicine issued a position statement in 1997 emphasising the value of the family exercising together. Clearly it is not the norm for whole families to participate in the organized sports common in South Africa, such as soccer, rugby and cricket. While parents may appear to participate by cheering their child’s team from the side-lines, some would argue that this simply provides an example of non-activity. In addition, given that only an extremely small percentage of school athletes will play organised sport at a representative level, the emphasis on this form of sport seems inappropriate.

Correcting this situation isn’t easy, but perhaps adults make things more complicated than they need to be. If the goal of good parenting is to raise a healthy and successful young adult, then perhaps parents should allow children more time to just play, they should provide a better example by exercising (with the whole family) and they should be less concerned about for which team their child plays.                                                                                                                                                Dr Mike Marshall   MBChB (UCT) BSc Med (Hons) Sport Science (UCT)

Swimming is regarded as one of the most versatile sports when it comes to physical development. It therefore is one of the most important sports any child should take part in from an early age.

Plus-points for Swimming as an Early Activity for Children:

Water safety: As a toddler, a child needs to develop an understanding of water safety and a respect for the water. If swimming becomes a regular activity – a child generally develops a real passion for water-sport.

Floating – and breathing: This technique can save a toddler’s life!

Breathing technique: The sooner a child can relax and enjoy the water, the sooner he/she can learn to breathe normally and without fear when in the water.

Stroke techniques: Once the child has locked into the pleasures of being in the water then it is the task of the swimming instructor to begin to instill stroke techniques. These skills help a child to develop a feel for the water and become a confident swimmer.

Body Core and Muscle Strength: Mastering the basics of all the strokes in the water builds muscle strength – and is vital for a child taking part in any sport they decide to pursue.

Life-long Physical Fitness: The core fitness and physique development that an active swimmer develops before adolescence will lay the foundation for their physical fitness, for the rest of their life.

Cardio-vascular health: There are tremendous benefits to one’s overall cardio vascular system, in having regular swimming sessions.

Minimal Injuries: It is a non- impact sport so injuries are few and far between.


Cliff Lyne – Action Swim Coach

The Nipper activities at Lifesaving clubs have become one of the most successful child development and sporting programmes in South Africa.

A Nipper is a young member of a Lifesaving Club who is between the ages of 8 to 14 years old. In essence they are really the ‘nursery’ for the lifeguards of tomorrow.

The main aim of a lifesaving club with regard to nippers is to teach surf and pool safety – and to develop in youngsters a respect for the water, giving them confidence in the aquatic environment (especially the sea).

What Nipper activities offer children?

  • The emphasis is on participation and fun.
  • A wide variety of activities include, surf safety, surfing, body board paddling, knee board paddling, beach activities, first-aid, and pool events.
  • Develop sea sense and survival skills
  • Individual and team participation
  • Opportunity to participate in Inter-Club, National Championships, Fun Carnivals, and Interprovincial Championships.
  • Good wholesome family fun. Parent participation is encouraged and welcomed.
  • Warm social environment for families and friends

The season starts from the 1st September and runs to the end of April. Nipper activities are offered on Sunday mornings.

There are 4 well established lifesaving clubs that operate from our Durban beaches:-

– Marine Contact      :   Bambi

– Durban Surf            :  TBC

– Pirates                    :    Angela

– Umhlanga Rocks    : TBC

Chantel Venter of Clubventure Ballito encourages parents to engage in memorable family time – outdoors.

Most of us are busier than ever, with work, school, projects, social events and an ever-growing to-do list. Sometimes we can lose sight of what is truly important… family time. Outdoor family adventuring is a creative way to spend family time together, doing fun things and building a strong family identity.

Outdoor adventuring also provides a great opportunity to step back and watch your children grow and learn more about their own abilities and interests. The health benefits are numerous; playing out in the fresh air, getting the heart rate up through physical activity, strengthening core muscles as well as the mental stimulation that team challenges and activities activate in our brains. Benefits that can be enjoyed by the entire family, young and old.

There are all kinds of adventure activities available and many of these activities will challenge children to move out of their comfort zones. When the initial fear is overcome, it enables children to develop a healthy self-esteem and a positive mindset by teaching them that they are capable of facing any challenges they may encounter. Outdoor adventuring can provide fun activities that allow families to relax in a different environment, away from the every day stresses of life.

It is important to encourage children from a young age to try new things and explore new skills. This provides a good foundation for them in adulthood. When outdoor adventuring with your children, it is imperative to be positive as your children will only venture out if they feel that you are comfortable with the adventure too. When encouraging your children to do new things, always ensure that this is done in a safe environment. This will give them the confidence to try new adventures but also the ability to understand that safety first, is key, in any outdoor adventure activity.

I would like to encourage parents to take every opportunity to engage in outdoor adventure activities with your families and so create stories and make memories that will last a lifetime.


Chantel Venter (Clubventure)