Ok, I am sure you all know this already, but I went to medical school.  So, of course, I think health is about what doctors can do for and to patients.  But every once in a while, a great big light bulb goes off that says HEALTH IS NOT THE SAME AS HEALTHCARE.  Ouch! Health is, well, much more holistic.

So the light bulb went on big time tonight as my husband and I watched the latest arrival from Netflix:  “Mad Hot Ballroom.”  I don’t even remember ordering it.  But there it was in its little red paper envelope screaming “watch me now or keep on paying with nothing new to watch.”  So watch we did.  What a delight.

This video is about a ballroom dance competition in New York City.  Not just any dance competition, but one for 11-years old, many of them from inner-city public schools.  The movie shows you these kids first learning the dances – including merengue, rumba (yes!), tango, foxtrot and swing.  The kids start off insecure in their movements but by the end of the competition some of them have a “presence.”  They stand tall and look their partners in the eyes.  They smile and make you feel like they are really enjoying themselves.  And, they have rhythm, they have the moves, they can dance….!

The tie back to health is that health is not just about the things we doctors have been taught to prescribe – all too often pharmaceuticals – but health is also about happiness, friendships, team sports (including rooting for your favorite dance team), and bonding with teammates and teachers.

This program was teaching all of those things.  You could see these pre-teens grow more self-assured as the movie progressed.  Reminder_ most of these kid were in inner city schools where the competition for their future is often gangs, drug dealers, and, all too frequently, dead end job opportunities.

So you may be saying, a ballroom dance competition, is that really a way to prepare for the future?  I think the answer is yes.  The kids in this movie were given a goal, they were offered the opportunity to learn new skills, they learned how to support their team, their teachers learned how to keep them excited, and in the end, they were all sent a message that hard work, focus, and passion pays off.  That’s healthy and that’s health.

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