Strictly dancing lessons help children stay safe

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Children put their best feet forward for some Latin and Bollywood dancing as part of sessions held to help keep them safe.

Dance lessons are being offered as part of a school learning programme to introduce healthy activities for children, discouraging them from hanging around on street corners.

Children aged seven to 11 will also be warned about the dangers of being groomed on the internet, and advised about road safety, fire safety, peer pressure, dangers of drugs and respecting others.

Warren Park Primary School in Leigh Park is the first school in Hampshire to sign up to the government-endorsed programme which has enjoyed success in south Yorkshire and Harrow in London.

While every school offers some health and safety advice or is visited by police officers and firefighters, the scheme aims to cover it all in one learning scheme fronted by a friendly cartoon character called Dot Com.

Children are given their own books to write down when they feel angry and answer how a child could feel safe crossing the road.

They can also email Dot if they've got a problem, and get a personalised reply as if from a schoolgirl.

Year 6 pupil Harvey Williams, 10, said: 'It's good because if you feel sad you can send a message to Dot. Sometimes it's nice to speak to a stranger if you've got a problem.'

At its launch yesterday, teachers from Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman's dance school gave children a few tips on Latin dancing which most of the children had never tried.

Bollywood dance classes were also popular.

Cameron Bedden, 10, added: 'I like it, it's fun to do lots of different activities. It gives you something to do rather than getting up to mischief.'

Rory Costain, a dance teacher at the Len Goodman Dance School, said: 'Dancing is fun, energetic and good exercise. As well as keeping children healthy, it also gives them something to do rather than just hanging around on street corners.'

Warren Park Primary doesn't have to pay a penny for the programme as the costs are being met by security group Reliance, which sponsors Kids Taskforce, the charitable foundation that runs

Headteacher Colin Harris said: 'We live in vulnerable times and our children need to know how to be safe. We're happy to trial this scheme and then review it to see whether it works for our 420 children.' was created by TV news presenter Sharon Doughty, who was herself a child victim of domestic violence and sexual abuse until the age of seven.

After a career in television she became involved in consultancy on domestic violence and child welfare issues. She has now dedicated her life to finding innovative methods of teaching children how to be safe.

Sharon, president of Kids Taskforce, said: 'It's a joined- up approach.

All schools teach schools about safety but the good thing about this programme is it brings it altogether.

'It's been endorsed by the government's Department for Children, Schools and Families and we're talking to the government about it being funded nationally.'