From the football pitch to the dancefloor, the ever-growing SSFC Foundation continues to make strives as it aims to increase its impact on the community.

The Foundation held its inaugural dance festival at Mariners Park on Friday, June 28.

The festival came after the Foundation broadened its offering to much of the schools it works with, incorporating dance alongside its existing Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education delivery.

There was also a cultural element to the dance programme – led by coach Karen McKenzie – with children also learning about the heritage of countries where particular dances originated.

It culminated in a showcase at Mariners Park featuring pupils from Sea View Primary School, St Bede’s Primary School and Plains Farm Academy, who performed dances synonymous with the United States of America, France and India.

SSFC Foundation Programme Delivery Lead Nathan Kew said: “It was an absolutely fantastic day and certainly one of the best we’ve had since I’ve been here.

“The reaction we had from parents and teachers was brilliant, and the children seemed to love every minute of it.

“We are interested in anything that puts smiles on faces, and the reaction to the dance programme has shown us that we’ve done the right thing embracing it.

“The more we can offer this community, the better chance this community has of becoming better people and creating better people through the children that we work with.

“That’s what it’s all about.

“We want to have a large, positive impact on our community and working with the schools around us is a good way of doing that.”

Karen McKenzie worked with the children in their schools in the lead-up to the dance festival.

She then led the festival assisted by Nathan, Head of SSFC Foundation Steve Camm and SSFC Foundation apprentice Zak Turner-Cooke.

She said: “First of all, it was just about building their confidence up.

“I like to see the children grow from not necessarily wanting to do anything to hearing the music and building their confidence.

“It’s a nice team building thing as well, so they all encourage each other, which is what I like seeing the most.

“The festival went amazingly well.

“The atmosphere was buzzing and the children worked their socks off for it.

“They thoroughly enjoyed it and relished learning the different aspects of the dances.”

SSFC Foundation’s main activity partner is the Port of Tyne, which is providing financial support for a diverse activity programme that will benefit local people of all ages, with a focus on boosting health and well-being in the area.

South Shields captain Jon Shaw swapped the pitch for the classroom as he starred in a South Tyneside school’s World Book Day celebrations.

Shaw read four books to reception class pupils at Monkton Infants School, in Simonside, South Shields, as he showed he is as adept with a book in his hands as with a ball at his feet.

The 35-year-old was joined by SSFC Foundation programme delivery lead Nathan Kew as they kept the children entertained through the power of reading.

Peppa Pig and The Paper Bag Princess were among the books Shaw read to the children as part of the initiative, which aims to promote reading among youngsters.

Shaw, who is a dad-of-two, said: “It’s a really important cause, and something I know a lot about with having two small children myself.

“Everybody should be reading to their children, and you hope that those we engaged with at Monkton will go home having enjoyed listening to someone read, and will ask their parents to do the same.

“From a club point of view, it’s fantastic because the children will hopefully go home and talk about South Shields.

“It shows another side to our club.

“We pride ourselves on being a family-oriented, community club and if we weren’t willing to go and do things like this, we wouldn’t be standing by what we believe in.”

The club and its foundation have visited schools across South Tyneside over recent months as part of several initiatives.

Kew is delivering a number of programmes in schools and nurseries, mainly centered around PE but with cross-curricular links too.

On the visit to Monkton, he said: “It was a really good morning for the children and ourselves.

“The initiatives that have arisen over the last three to five years are brilliant, because they show literacy as a fun, engaging subject which can be seen in a different light, particularly within Key Stage One.

“It’s important that we push that because it’s the development of the children in our area, which is only going to make better people and a better community.

“Our brand within the area is quite big because of how well the club is doing at the moment.

“It’s good that we use that to promote literacy, and we’re not hiding that’s what we’re doing sometimes in PE.

“We’re trying to create strong cross-curricular links to create better children and a better future for them through the power of sport.”

Click here for full details about the Foundation’s programmes across South Tyneside – including information on how your child can get involved.

A conference is to be held next month to officially launch South Shields FC Foundation’s new programme for primary schools and nurseries.

Led by the Foundation’s Nathan Kew, the conference will be held at The Word, in Market Place, South Shields, on Friday, February 15.

We will discuss the current PE curriculum and how we can contribute to schools’ current provision.

We will also talk about interventions and how to successfully link literacy and numeracy into the PE curriculum.

Schools and nurseries which attend the conference will get the opportunity to meet other schools which have been piloting the programme during January.

As well as PE co-ordinators, the conference is aimed at school and nursery staff who have the responsibility for bringing the everyday curriculum into sport.

Nathan Kew, the Foundation’s Programme Delivery Lead, said: “We are very excited to welcome schools to the launch of our new programme.

“We feel that the programme can greatly assist primary and nurseries and look forward to explaining this at length at the conference.

“High-quality PE can have a huge impact on a child’s social, physical and emotional development, and this starts in primary education.

“It is vital children are given the best possible opportunity to get their physical education off to a good start, which is what we feel we are able to provide.

“The programme fits perfectly with the Foundation’s ethos, which is about improving the health and well-being of the local community.

“We hope that the conference is well-attended and that schools will be as enthused about the programme as we are.”

Nathan has written and developed the bespoke programme, and will deliver it in schools which sign up.

The conference will take place at The Word between 10am and 12pm on Friday, February 15, with lunch to follow.

Registration and coffee will begin at 9.30am.

If you would like to attend the conference, please send an email to foundation@southshieldsfc.co.uk.

Please note that all those who attend must be school or nursery staff.