“One of the most important aspects of the Rubicon programme is the opportunity it gives the child to try something different and the fact it helps them to understand that their bodies still work, even after surgery or trauma… most important of all that they can have fun in hospital.”

Sian Hulbert, Senior Play Specialist, Noah's Ark Children's Hospital for Wales

In 2012 Rubicon approached the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales with a vision to provide dance sessions for children in hospital. We believed that dance could provide a welcome alternative for children who were undergoing long-term treatment or physiotherapy, and enable them to experience activities that replicated life outside the hospital. We were aware that dance and movement programmes had taken place in other major children’s hospitals across the UK, and we were keen to bring the same positive changes to children in Wales.

Pilot Programme

Various meetings, discussions, and tours of the hospital later, we were ready to start our six week pilot. Working alongside the hospital physiotherapists and play specialists, we began our pilot with a two hour session, which later extended into a morning and afternoon slot. We worked with the play specialists in the morning and the physiotherapists in the afternoon to get a flavour of the unique skills each team used, and how these helped each child move towards their goals. Over the 6 weeks we worked with lots of different children and their family members from babies to teens, individualising each session to match the child’s needs.

The pilot was a great success: 94% of goals set by physiotherapists and Rubicon’s dance leaders were achieved, and we had given the hospital an effective way to increase patients’ access to exercise. Dance sessions were a fun activity and tailored activity for children which reduced their emotional distress before or after treatment. Some children were more engaged with their physiotherapy through dance, and we could even incorporate education into sessions for long term patients who had to miss school. We were able to give patients choices, where many of their choices are taken away from them whilst they are hospitalised.

After the pilot we secured more funding to continue the programme and since then we haven’t stopped. Our weekly sessions at the Children’s Hospital still run today and the wards we work on continue to expand. Over our 8 years at the hospital we have provided 980 sessions for 1,800 participants, and worked with children between 6 weeks and 15 years.


Image displaying quotes from Play specialists and Rubicon Dance leader about Rubicons dance sessions at the Noahs Ark Childrens Hospital.

"Children on Haemodialysis have to endure a gruelling regime of four times weekly dialysis sessions for as much as four hours at a time. This is at a time in their lives when they would much prefer to be running around in the playground or at home.  For that reason the time spent with them doing activities such as those offered by Rubicon is enormously helpful both in terms of their development but also in terms of actually getting through the four hour treatment, without tears.

Children on Haemodialysis have to sit still, if they become upset and move about the treatment has to be abandoned on grounds of safety, so if this time is filled with Dance and other activities, then the child’s compliance with the treatment regime is greatly enhanced and therefore their long term health is protected. I know I can speak for all involved parents and clinicians to say that the services offered by Rubicon will have great benefit to our children on dialysis and we are all most grateful."

Mr Matthew Pernas, Paediatric Haemodialysis Lead Nurse, Children's Kidney Centre, University Hospital of Wales

This programme has attracted some wonderful funders which include The Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust, Hilton in the Community Foundation, Cathays Parish Church, Cardiff East Rotary Club, Radyr Parish Music Group, Cardiff Bay Women’s Institute and Cathays Women’s Institute.