Breaking Boundaries in Barking & Dagenham with Barking & Dagenham Youth Dance

Breaking Boundaries is a three-year programme (2018 –2021) funded by Spirit of 2012, supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and The Institute of Community Cohesion (Icoco).

It aims to socially connect young people, their families and communities together through regular cricket engagement, fostering mutual respect and friendships by playing, spectating and volunteering.  It is being delivered in 5 cities; Bradford, Birmingham, London (Barking and Dagenham), Manchester and Slough.

We are getting to know Barking & Dagenham Youth Dance who have been working to support the local community in Barking and Dagenham to build and develop more cohesive communities.

Who are Barking & Dagenham Youth Dance (BDYD)?

We are a charity based in Barking and Dagenham for the past 17 years. We offer weekly dance and cultural activity programmes to young people, and their families. Our first programme began in 2003, with a summer school that was funded by the local authority, at the end of the school they asked if we could continue with the classes and we have carried on ever since! 


B&D Youth Dance

How did BDYD get involved with Breaking Boundaries?

We were contacted by Sam Sawhney, who via his work on another local project signposted us to his Activator role with Sporting Equals that supports Breaking Boundaries. We joined the project in January 2020, which has meant playing catch up to train our leaders as Community Champions, but we are very excited about using the power of cricket to expand into new areas and offer more opportunities to young people locally come together.  

So what kind of activities and events are you planning?

We have been working hard to ensure that the power of cohesion is being used by the Community Champions we are working with at BDYD to plan an exciting dance themed event. 

That sounds interesting!  What made you decide to join the Breaking Boundaries project?

Some of the most important things for us are self-discipline, time keeping and understanding when you come to a session you are part of a team. We try and relate those experiences to training and education, and hope we can use the power of cricket to do the same, and work with another group or two within our event we aim to deliver later this year. 

BDYD also is always looking at how our young members can engage with older people as we believe there is a gap between the generations and we want to try and build those relationships – this programme can help with this.  

We are seeing that from working closely with our young people, our Community Champions,  to find out about their interests, this project can support us to move into multi sports. This concept can help us to develop a toolkit approach with multiple activities delivered by BDYD that also allows us to cater to varied tastes, and supports our continual sustainability goals around community cohesion.

The intergenerational link is a large part of what we aim for, and this concept of training and empowering young people as Community Champions to take the lead in various ways can ensure they are encouraged to develop a much more embrasive approach when planning activity, and in general life break down barriers.    

What role does cricket play in your plans?

BDYD have a programme called Bar-ham leaders, it has been running for about 4 years now. The way we have designed the project is to use the movements of cricket players to create a movement set looking at how cricket players move while they are playing and translate that. It's about watching various cricket games and matches and look at how cultural influences play a part in how they play and take those movements and exaggerate them to make movement pieces. All of this compliments our existing drive to engage as many people as possible, and this project can only help us to become better in the audiences we can reach.  

We see cricket is far more than the traditional concept of the game alone. The idea we are delivering is looking at music, food and culture from the sport.

This on the ground with our Community Champions is proving to be an exciting way to show them that they can be as creative as ever, and also breaking down the sport to show it is very positive in a cohesive sense – the game brings not just cultures together but also those who wish to use cricket in many other ways, all in the name of connecting communities via common themes.  

So you joined the Breaking Boundaries project in January, are you seeing any progress yet?

We can already see the conversations happening that are opening up new avenues in terms of our organisational reach and also between participants and their families.

One of our young members always watches cricket with his grandfather and since he has become part of the Breaking Boundaries project, he is now seeing cricket totally differently. He notices certain things like the music during the games, even the teams being watched make more sense. This is just one example of how one simple idea can become a domino effect of positivity!