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Dance4Healing (D4H): Dance for Community Health and Sustainable Livelihood

D4H is a collaborative telehealth platform that makes healthy habit building fun & easy and supports dance instructors affected by COVID-19.

Photo of Amy Li
22 14

Written by

Where are you located (country)?

USA and Colombia

Where are you located (city or town)?

San Francisco, CA, USA and Popayán, Colombia

You are submitting as:

  • An organization

If part of an organization or group, what is the name?


What is your organization or group’s website? (If applicable)

How does your proposed solution support emerging middle-class families in urban areas in the Global South to adapt and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic?

In Cali, the Salsa capital of Colombia, 5600 cultural infrastructures, 498 dance academies, and 108 dance halls closed due to COVID-19. Many instructors lost jobs and were forced to change professions. They are also excluded from government assistance due to their middle-class status. Culture and art funding are also being cut, further hurting the economy. Partnering with the University of Cauca, we want to launch D4H in Colombia, then expand to all Global South. Our mission is to make healthy habit building fun and supportive. Our goal is to work with Colombian artists with a long history of exquisite arts and dance to produce immersive culture experience and bilingual educational content. We will host the pre-recorded content and provide live teaching using D4H’s telehealth live video platform. We strive to create a win-win situation to support instructors/artists who lost income and bring diverse content across the globe. We will charge global affluent appreciators of Latin American culture for the service, and offer it for FREE to support low-income Spanish-speaking communities.

What stage of development is your Idea in?

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

What tier are you applying to?

  • Global South Open Prize Tier: Open to submissions focused on any country in the Global South, at any stage of development.

Do you intend to implement your idea in Peru?

  • Yes

In what countries do you expect to implement your idea initially (in the first 2 years)?

Colombia, and potentially with Peru

Feasibility: where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve accomplished to date, what barriers to implementation might exist, and what next steps you plan to take.

We had a very successful pilot with Stanford, earning a Net Promoter Score of 91, high attendance, and improvements in mental health, pain, and body energy across all patients. We won 20 awards such as Stanford MedicineX Healthcare Design Award, Partners Connected Health (Harvard) Fit Mind Challenge (sponsored by AARP), Top 5 finalists for Pfizer’s global mBC challenge. We are funded for a telehealth clinical trial at the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and soon will launch an insurance-billable program at Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine. Our previous collaboration with the University of Cauca won the Best Telehealth Collaboration Award at the American Association of Precision Medicine’s Hackathon. In this partnership, we will have a powerful deployment to dance and art communities in Colombia with the support of masters in art and dance, film students, and developers. We aim to build an all-immersive cultural experience and expand the business outreach for Colombian artists/dancers to global users, whose interest validated via our market test. These are the barriers and steps we are taking. Local instructors may lack access to the platform due to limited internet or devices, we are in conversation with local dance academies and film schools to provide instructors with device access, video production, tutorials, and support to teach online. We will also implement bilingual features on D4H’s platform to improve accessibility for users & instructors.

Viability: what needs to be true for you to be able to implement your idea? What stakeholders, partnerships and resources might be required to implement this solution?

To implement this idea, it is essential to partner with dance academies & properly supports instructors. Dance academies have management, connections, and resources for marketing and video production. Our Colombian team is in conversation with the Cultural and Dance Federation and several academies from Cali, Barranquilla, and Bogotá, prominent groups that have proven interest in this idea. Partnering with these reputable & open academies will establish our credibility and reach more non-academy associated instructors, such as gym and private instructors. I’m a committee member of the American Psychological Association’s Interdivisional COVID-19 Task Force, we will be partnering with experts from this committee to educate the instructors on how to provide services to patients and elders. We will also partner with schools for intergenerational programs that enable teenagers to assist elders with tech adoption. We will increase the size of our bilingual team, to better communicate the needs of Colombian dance instructors to the Dance4Healing team. To provide this service for FREE to under-resourced communities, we will seek sponsorship and funding from government agencies & social service groups. We will partner with Colombian artists, musicians, and dancers to curate colorful and graphical experience on dance origin, background on each dance step, history, and local culture. We will also increase the technical team to support the additional features to the platform.

Adaptability: how does your idea adapt to frequent changes within the context you are implementing, due to COVID-19? Consider the rapidly shifting government policies, and healthcare economic realities that might influence end users.

1/3 of dance students in Colombia are tourists. COVID-19 has devastated the economy and despite slow recoveries in tourism, the average income of instructors will be lower than the past. Returning to in-person lessons is unpredictable due to shifting government policies, so pre-recorded lessons and live video teaching via D4H will provide instructors an extra & static source of income. In the US, COVID-19 has accelerated insurance reimbursements for telehealth services. With our soon launching insurance billable program and telehealth clinical trial at Stanford, we aim to provide this service for patients reimbursed by health plans such as Medicare (for the elderly) and Medicaid (for the low-income). Our collaborations will bring new dances & communities, compatible dance buddies, and a fun platform for those who stuck at home to stay healthy. Our bilingual content will also support underserved Latino communities in the US. Latinos consist of 18% of the US population and tend to suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity at much higher rates than average, with 20% lacking the socioeconomic & linguistic resources to manage their health. We validated the market interest by opening our platform and received 330 sign-ups immediately, set up surveys and meetings to co-create business models with instructors. This partnership will further expand our reach and bring a cost-effective, clinically validated integrative medicine approach to more diverse communities.

Attachments (1)

Partner Deck_ AESS-D4H OpenIDEO Global South Challenge.pdf

The Partnership Deck to demonstrate how University of Cauca is collaborating with Dance4Healing to make healthy habit building fun & easy and supports dance instructors affected by COVID-19.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Maria D

A beautiful project that creates an abundance of opportunities for people around the globe faced with extreme challenges and circumstances.

Photo of Amy Li

Maria D Thank you so much for your comment, yes, dance has no borders. It's more crucial than ever to have our global community collaborate across the continents, and co-creating Win-Win situations in a fun, creative way. :)

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