Kids dance to a different tune

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Less kids are taking up netball and tennis and more are getting involved with dancing and martial arts, according to recent figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Between 2003 and 2012, children’s participation has increased by 27 per cent for dancing and 24 per cent for martial arts.
Meanwhile, the number of children participating in netball declined by eight per cent, and participation in tennis also fell by 10 per cent in this period.

ABS Director of the National Centre for Cultural and Recreation Statistics, Andrew Middleton, said that contributing to the increasing popularity of dancing was a rise in participation among children aged five to eight years.

“Participation increased from 27 per cent to 32 per cent for girls and from one per cent to four per cent for boys,” he said.

David Greenland, owner of Emerald Dragon Martial Arts Academy in Penrith, said he’s seen a positive trend to his sport with his participation numbers consistently growing over the years.

“10 years ago we started out with 15 students, now we train more than 200 students a week at our academy in Penrith,” he said.

“We’ve even seen a lot more girls get involved in the kids programs as Martial Arts provides fitness, self-defence, and discipline to both genders equally.”

Laura Harrison from Westside Performing Arts said numbers for her dancing school had remained consistent over the last seven years with more and more dance schools continuing to pop up regularly.

“Over the past 12 months there has been a reduction on how much children do and I think the slowing economy is a reflection,” she said.

“However there are new dancing schools opening all the time especially in the Penrith area, there’s one on every corner.”

CEO of Nepean District Tennis Association, Chris Woodland, said tennis in the local area has bucked the trend and seen a “serious increase” in people using their Woodriff Gardens facility.

“There hasn’t been a decline for us but an increase,” he said.

The same can’t be said for netball.

John Burns, President of St Marys Leagues Netball Club, said he’s noticed a slight drop in participation numbers with more and more girls joining other rival codes and trying sports like soccer.

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