Dancing instructor Leona Mooney practices an Irish dance with the group. They hope to showcase their skills at a town celebration in March.
When the Branch Cultural Historical Association was awarded a Provincial Wellness Grant, chairperson Lorna English wanted a mandate that promoted heritage and culture and was a source of healthy living. Ms. English, along with other committee members and the Branch Council, tried to do just that, and developed a program that teaches both traditional music and dance from the area.
Shane Morrissey teaches younger and older participants on guitar and accordion while Leona Mooney teaches traditional and modern dance.
"Anytime we can have teaching between generations and encourage children and adults to work together, we do," said Ms. English.
Branch's very own dance group, which is three years old, has portrayed their skills in multiple performances in Branch and at the Folk Festival in Bannerman Park for the past two years. With this new initiative, there are more members in the dancing program, whose ages ranges from five to 15. In total, there are 14 members who are set to perform in March along with those studying the guitar and accordion portion.
"Whenever you can promote healthy living, both physical and mental, it's a great thing. We want this to be a movement for health," said Ms. English. "Through this program, the committee and I hope to enhance social skills as well as the art of music and dancing."
In addition to the promotion of healthy living and culture, the program is getting the community involved.
"We put out a questionnaire to members of the community, to ask for both positive and negatives, and we ask how we can improve," she said. "We try and get people from the community out and involved, get them to socialize more with fellow members of the community."
According to Ms. English, this program strengthens bonds within the community as well.
"Early on, we partnered with the council and the Branch Seniors Group, when multiple groups work together it really does provide a positive atmosphere and it strengths the bond of community groups."
The Branch Historical Cultural Association, along with the Branch Town Council and the Branch Seniors group hope to showcase the lessons learned and the talent of this program in a celebration meal in March with the community and with founders.