HUNDREDS of children across Portsmouth and Gosport are to thank for kick-starting a charity dance craze that swept across UK schools and raised more than £20,000.
Youngsters from at least eight local schools were the first to sign up to a Children in Need Danceathon, led by PE specialist Vanessa King.
It began as an effort to get learners in Hampshire to pay £1 to take part in a unique choreographed routine and make a music video with it.
But by the time Children in Need rolled around on November 15, schools in the south of England, Leeds, Wales and Scotland had taken part.
Funds raised by the effort amounted to more than £20,000 and organisers are already setting their sights on a heftier total next year.
The special music video, set to Friend Like Me by Will Smith, from the new film Aladdin, has been watched more than 7,000 times online.
Ms King, who works as a PE specialist for Hampshire County Council, including in its PE Suite programme, said: ‘We decided to produce a dance piece to get as many children moving as possible. The reaction has been absolutely electric.
‘Children loved the dance and many of them had been practising it for at least a month before we went round to schools and filmed it.
‘To think about the impact this danceathon will have on the children who get that money is a great feeling.
‘I’m so proud of everyone and it's a brilliant example that when we believe, we can achieve amazing things.’
Pupils at Elson Infant School, Gomer Infant School, Lee-on-the-Solent Infant School, Alverstoke Infant and Junior schools and Leesland Federation schools all feature in the video, alongside youngsters from Solent Junior School in Drayton, Portsmouth.
On the snowball effect the fundraiser had – starting with those children – Ms King added: ‘It was great for them to be the driving schools. For me personally, I felt really proud to have initiated the chain and really excited to see how many people enjoyed the dance.’
The routine was filmed during school visits between November 11 and November 15, with help from Jonelle Brook and Louise Slade.
Ms King has urged as many schools as possible to take in next year’s drive, with aspirations to smash the fundraising achievements of 2019.
Any school that wants to take part, with pupils paying £1 each, should email email@example.com