International Self-Care Day (ISD), on 24 July each year, is a device developed by the International Self-Care Foundation to provide a media-friendly forum and a focus for individuals and groups to (independently) promote self-care in their organisation or community. A good illustration is the Shanghai Square Dance Competition which took place on Sunday 26 July in the Shanghai Sports Palace.
Shanghai has an ageing population which has been a particular focus for the local authorities. Square dancing is a very popular activity with the older (aged 50+) female participants, with some 150,000 regular local participants in Shanghai, based around communities and social activity centres. Dancing is of course an excellent form of physical activity, vital for maintaining good health and mental wellbeing not least in older people.
The local steering committee, consisting of the Shanghai Senior Citizen Committee, the Shanghai Municipal Sports Bureau, and the China Ageing Industry Development Foundation, decided to encourage this activity by establishing an inter-community competition. During May and June 2015 a series of preliminary competitions identified the top 20 community square dance teams, which typically each had around 30 members. For ISD these teams then competed for the top prizes, judged by an expert panel, in front of a large audience in the Shanghai Sports Palace. Various ceremonials and speeches contributed to a very enjoyable day. The event was deemed a great success by all the dancers and other participants. From ISF’s perspective this event was an excellent illustration of the use of ISD to progress a self-care objective – in this case encouraging regular exercise in the older population in Shanghai. The local organisers are now considering what to do for ISD 2016.
The Shanghai event was supported by ISF, the Shanghai Health Industry Development & Promotion Association, the Shanghai Sports Federation and the Shanghai Pudong Science & Technology Association. Media coverage was provided by the Shanghai TV Station “0” Channel and the Shanghai Media Group. Local organisation was provided by an International Self-Care Day Shanghai Organising Committee and International Self-Care Day Shanghai Organising Committee Community Natural Health Working Group.