Jay Austin from Just Jay Dance

Jay is the founder of Just Jay Dance, and delivers dance classes to children and adults across Ipswich. Jay ordinarily would teach over 18 weekly fun, energetic and inclusive classes from various venues in Ipswich, however when lockdown rules were introduced he was unable to deliver any sessions!

After giving it some thought, Jay found a innovative way to reconnect with his usual groups by using his social media platform to offer free dance classes.

"Jay thought hard about how best to make his online classes accessible to all and most importantly fun as well as getting us all moving more!"

In addition Jay also set up regular fitness classes for children on zoom, he challenged them to online quizzes which encouraged physical activity and he also set up online discussions for the young people to help them manage their mental health during such a unpredictable and challenging time.

"He is always thinking about how he can help others and his efforts during lockdown proved this, without a thought for himself or gaining anything from it personally (with the exception of very happy and grateful parents and children!) A true lockdown activity hero!"

Jay has gone above and beyond during this time despite facing his own challenges and uncertainty for his careers future. His selfless dedication and commitment has been described as "fun, positive and refreshing". One mother told us how Jay showed interest and really took the time to listen to the children's stories during this period, whilst several other parents also explained how Jay's efforts helped to keep them active and happy too.

Not only did Jay's efforts encourage physical activity, but it also helped children reconnect with their friends and brought a sense of normality for the young people.

"The kids look up to him and he always tells them to never let any obstacles get in the way. He tell's them to work hard, be the best you can be and you can achieve anything! He has been an example of that and he is a star!"

Once outdoor activity in small groups was able to resume, Jay began delivering some classes from the Holywells Park in Ipswich.

"When socially distanced dance classes could be introduced, just seeing the kiddies faces was priceless! They were smiling, having a giggle but more importantly being active again in the fresh air. It was like they had come back as different kids, with more energy and more drive and they really look forward to the next one!"

The support from Jay has really helped to keep his community motivated and his fun classes have really kept everyone's spirits up. It is obvious to see why he has been nominated as a Lockdown Activity Hero - Well done Jay!