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Can dance help people struggling with chronic illness? After a visit to the Health and Humanities Interdisciplinary Venue for Exploration (HHIVE Lab), Chancellor’s Science Scholar Maebelle Mathew was determined to find out.

Mathew, inspired by Dr. Jordynn Jack’s project, Writing Diabetes, and her own dancing experience, researched the effects of dance on diabetes. Supported by the Office for Undergraduate Research and friends from her dance group, Mathew organized her own project, Diabetes and Dance. Over the course of eight weeks of dance workshops, she and her team taught contemporary dance, Latin, Bollywood, and Zumba to people with diabetes at a local senior center.

According to Emilie Poplett’s article on the UNC website, “Although the study was small, the results were promising.” Participants reported an increase in self-esteem and coping ability, and some even saw their glucose levels decrease by the end of the eight weeks.

Mathew and her team may have graduated, but they plan to continue this program as a student organization at UNC-Chapel Hill to offer dance workshops and social support to anyone struggling with a chronic illness.

Read more about Mathews and her project here.

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