A DANCE project set up in Kirklees has won an award.

The ambitious Essentially Dance Kirklees project, which got schools and community groups taking part in Latin American and ballroom dancing, has taken the runners-up award in the Making a Difference in Yorkshire and Humber Awards 2010.

The awards recognise the workers and front- line staff from councils, police, fire and national park authorities who have gone that extra mile to make a difference to the lives of local people.

Essentially Dance is the largest project of its kind and aims to train workers in older people’s settings and teachers in all schools and colleges to lead dance sessions.

It was spearheaded by Strictly Come Dancing’s Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova, pictured right.

It has brought the cha cha cha, waltz, quickstep and jive to thousands of people, young and old across Kirklees.

Clr Mary Harkin, Kirklees Council Cabinet member for communities and leisure, said: “We are delighted that this excellent project has been recognised in The Local Government Yorkshire and Humber Awards.

“It is clear that the Essentially Dance programme is a huge success with the impacts and outcomes in excess of all our expectations.”

So far more than 160 teachers have taken part in the training and have introduced sessions in PE lessons, after-school clubs and in some areas have linked with older people’s groups for a real intergenerational dance experience.

Dr Judith Hooper, director of public health for NHS Kirklees and Kirklees Council said: “Essentially Dance Kirklees is a fantastic opportunity to give children the chance to learn new skills and gain the benefits of taking part in regular physical activity. Evaluation so far has shown a really positive impact on self-esteem, social skills and self-confidence”.