About Us


“Do one thing every day that scares you”

Ursula Joy, founder & head DAREdevil..

Ursula at Project Dare Project Dare landed in the UK in 2013, envisioned by Ursula Joy.  Ursula was responding to society’s obsession with the way we look and the terrifying facts brought to light regarding a range of both physical and mental health issues including anorexia nervosa, bulimia, obesity, anxieties and depression. Ursula says “You only have to flit through a newspaper or turn on the TV to see an abundance of over sexualised men or women. Air-brushed images promote a lifestyle and a ‘beauty’ that is impossible to achieve (even if you do buy their product…). Marketing companies specialise in homing in on our insecurities as emotional beings. Women and men are growing up in a confusing world of social media where little is left to the imagination. Men & women are similarly competitive. They pressurise each other to dress, behave or look a certain way. Consumerism corrupts our souls. Take a step back & look at the bigger picture & some truly ‘beautiful’ waves of understanding take place instead…”

Check out our social impact report:

Project DARE Social Impact Report 10.12.15

How We Came to Dare to Be…

After battling a period of mental ill health, Ursula went on a path of self-discovery and through various techniques discovered three qualities about herself that she loved. These three traits are passion, energy and creativity. It wasn’t long before Ursula realised that if she embraced these three qualities into her daily routine she would lead a more fulfilling life. Ursula envisioned Project DARE! based on those words. By the end of the Project DARE! Sessions, each Darer (or participant) will also come away with their own words of self love, exactly like she did.

Three Aims for Project Dare..

1. To inspire men, women and young people to celebrate their bodies by increasing confidence in themselves as they learn how to be their own best friend.

2. To encourage peer support and bonding through shared experience and a person-centred approach to workshop leading.

3. To promote the DARE as a lifestyle choice. Once you establish you can work outside your comfort zone, both mentally and physically – your confidence grows and grows, and now guess what – you are unstoppable!

Dare to dream, BIG. Our vision for success..

“Every man. Every woman and every young person who comes into contact with project dare feels at peace with their body. Each participant (Darer) should feel unique, treasured and clever.  Every Darer will be encouraged to re-ignite themselves with their senses, explore their inner voice and encouraged do one thing each day that scares them, it is through this action that the comfort zone will increase & consequently their belief in themselves.  Project Dare will enchant in a world of passion, energy and creativity where Darers discover their true self-worth. It smells of lavender; sometimes vanilla, it is a calm, focussed, loving place where all are equal. It tastes of the future and it sounds like the welcomes and greetings you receive when you visit home. Every Darer is challenged and inspired, supported and loved. Every Darer will walk on the clouds, dance on the stage and hunger for more”.

Ursula Joy 2013

Passion. Energy. Creativity.


The Dare Sessions..

Project DARE! challenges men, women and young adults to adore their bodies and radiate confidence by taking on Daring tasks that increase self-esteem and teach self-compassion whilst celebrating the body, having fun & feeling fabulous.

Project DARE! is a rollercoaster of exercises specifically designed to boost self love and celebrate of the human body. The DARE Sessions (or series of exercises) are primarily theatre based. A range of bespoke techniques are played out to get Darers (participants) to demonstarate their unique abilities. The sessions have the Darers displaying their skills without their realisation.

We use the work of practitioner Augusto Boal to explore deep routed issues. We facilitate discussion on root causes of low self-esteem & teach skills actors use for confidence on stage, we celebrate the genius of our body, get in touch with our senses, intuition and inherent power each of us posess.

By the end of the sessions, the Darers will come away knowing what makes them unique, loving their body more than ever before and will have the skill and knowledge to recapture this incredible feeling whenever they need too.

Project DARE! sessions empower the Darers to think about themselves in different ways. It is a programme focused on body image, but also a catalyst for enriching one’s life. This will manifest itself through each Darers growth in confidence, self-expression and outlook. The workshops are energized, fun and lead in a celebratory manner.

Click here to view a short video and see one of our workshops in action…

Your personal DareDevil (workshop leader) and Screamer (assistant workshop leader) will guide and support you through the process..

Volunteer daredevil Bijal leading the group

Screamer Bijal leading the group

 

 

Who benefits from attending the DARE Sessions..?

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Project DAREs wellbeing results are outstanding. Take a look at our Social Impact Report

 

1. Men & Women 16 years + Ask yourself..

Q. Want more confidence?

A. If the answer is yes then this workshops for you.

Q. Want to adore your body?

A. If yes, the dare sessions are for you.

Q. Want to have fun, learn new skills and discover what makes you unique?

A. If yes, we’re designed for you..

Project Dare welcomes adults of all ages, fitness levels and backgrounds. We encourage professionals, students, service users and more. The project works best when it has a mix of participants from all walks of life.

 

darers performing in an physical orchestra portraying viscious cycles we can

 

2. Young People.. 10-16 years of age..

Project Dare is a fun way of exploring & gaining insight into self-esteem, compassion & body image. There are tailored Dare Sessions for  10-16 year old students. The classes can be mixed sex although our experience shows us that with this age group the workshops are most beneficial when all female or all male. If you are booking on behalf of a school you can select the students in your year group/s who you think would benefit the most. Key stages 2 & 3 are where many issues concerning self-esteem begin to surface and if not explored can result in unhealthy core beliefs.

Groups of 12 – 30 participant’s, works the best.

Teachers?! – the workshop fits like a glove within the PSHE section of the national curriculum. All our workshop leaders are enhanced DBS checked and have vast experience of working with young adults and vulnerable people including youngters and adults with learning disabilities or mental health issues.

“Girls were really enthusiastic and engaged. They seemed very comfortable in sharing their thoughts. Girls who were normally very quiet were eager to take part in discussion. Lots of happy smiley faces! Really seemed to be thinking and getting something out of it. Presenters were very articulate, organised and supportive” Anne C Denevan Head of Year 9, Bishops Thomas Grant School, Streatham OFSTED Outstanding rated School.

“Girls were really enthusiastic and engaged. They seemed very comfortable in sharing their thoughts. Girls who were normally very quiet were eager to take part in discussion. Lots of happy smiley faces! Really seemed to be thinking and getting something out of it. Presenters were very articulate, organised and supportive”
Anne C Denevan Head of Year 9, Bishops Thomas Grant School, Streatham OFSTED Outstanding rated School.

Click here to access our social impact report:

Project DARE Social Impact Report 10.12.15


What is…

Guides10b_250Self-esteem
Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. That’s why it’s called SELF-esteem. It’s how you describe a person’s self-worth & value. Both unfortuntley and fortunatley self-esteem is essential for survival in the western world and for our normal healthy development. Self-esteem arises automatically from within based upon people’s beliefs, thoughts, behaviours, feelings & actions towards themselves.
People with high self-esteem know themselves well. They’re realistic and find friends that like and appreciate them for who they are. People with high self-esteem usually feel more in control of their lives and know their own strengths and weaknesses.

Body Confidence & Body ImageGuides11b_250

Our internalized sense of what we look like. The belief that you are at your most beautiful when you are healthy, healthy in body and in mind. A feeling that results when you give up the mission to mould and shape yourself. You make a commitment to take care of yourself, inside and out. Body confidence breeds a positive body image. It enables us to see ourselves through a meaningful lens, not a superficial one.

“What would life be like, if you woke up every morning, looked in the mirror, and told yourself you were beautiful every day..?”

What do the Project Dare psychologists say..?

 

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The Journey into an Eating Disorder and the Road to Recovery..

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Dr Sarah Elison PhD, Academic Psychologist

 Dr Sarah Elison PhD, Academic Psychologist

By their very nature eating disorders are secretive creatures. Most people with an eating disorder become very skilled at hiding their difficulties from the outside world. This means that the experience is a very isolating, lonely one, which can cause the individual affected to further withdraw from the people that care about them. All too quickly the eating disorder takes such a powerful hold that before long it has the individual affected convinced that they, the eating disorder, is their only true ‘friend’.

 Our understanding of the causes of eating disorders has rapidly expanded in recent decades, and we now know that these causes come from a wide range of sources. Often societal pressures and expectations about the ‘body beautiful’ are involved, and it is this that has been blamed for the worrying increases in the numbers of people experiencing eating disorders, and the alarmingly young age at which children are developing these problems.

However, when you explore each individuals ‘journey’ into their eating disorder the same common threads are usually discovered. Feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth from childhood, a tendency towards perfection and self-criticism, and relationship difficulties within the family system are all common causes of eating disorders. Yet each individual’s journey is also in its own way unique, which is perhaps the reason why there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to treatment of them.

What may work for one individual may not work for others, and there a range of treatment approaches out there, it’s just about finding the combination of treatments that works best for each individual. Counselling, cognitive-behavioural therapy, group and peer support, medications and inpatient treatment have all benefited many individuals on their road to recovery, a road that can be a difficult and long one. Recent research has shown that it takes around 7 years for someone to fully recover from an eating disorder such as anorexia, and often what is most important on the journey to recovery is having the strength to keep going even when you feel you’ll never be free.

This is something I have my own first-hand experience of, as the majority of my 20’s were spent overcoming anorexia that first took hold at the age of 11. If as a teenager I had been given the information and support Ursula’s workshops contain I may have been able to develop a healthier relationship with my body, and with food, that might have prevented me from travelling down the road to anorexia, and subsequently the long, road to recovery.

Ursula’s workshops are unique as they specifically support each individual young person to nurture a positive relationship with themselves, and to care for and celebrate their body and mind. It is this kind of holistic, preventative support that young people need, and exactly the kind of approach that is required if we are going to impact on the shocking statistics around eating disorders.

 

I think of self-esteem as a concept developed by the western world…

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Roxanna Mohtashemi
BA Hons, PGDip Psych

Roxanna Mohtashemi, BA Hons, PGDip Psych

I think of self-esteem as a concept developed by the western world.  Do people struggle with self-esteem as much in developing countries where the media has less of a voice?  I think that there’s almost an expectation that we ‘should’ have self-esteem and if we don’t then there’s something wrong with us! Ursula’s workshop is getting at something really important – it is acknowledging the influence of powerful institutions such as the media and fashion industry on how we feel about ourselves individually and as a society.  In my opinion, self-esteem is a concept constructed by our society – we need to have it to protect us because society does such a good job of ripping it to shreds!  Not only does Ursula’s workshop acknowledge these societal influences, but she also empowers individuals to challenge and adapt unhelpful ways of thinking about themselves, in a fun, creative and collective manner.  What an original and fantastic idea. Where do I sign up?!

 

 

 A Body-image Perspective

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Dr. Anna Spivack BSc, MSc, DPsych, CPsychol
Eating Disorders Specialist

Dr. Anna Spivack BSc, MSc, DPsych, CPsychol Eating Disorders Specialist

It would be fair to say that self-esteem and body image are intrinsically linked… “I feel rubbish about myself – therefore I feel rubbish about my body”. And there are so many factors, both environmental and personal, which contribute to both poor self-esteem and an affected body-image.

The issue at hand here is how do we heal our negative thoughts about our bodies and ourselves? Well, it’s definitely not easy with the constant deluge of media messages that thin = beautiful; glamourising stick thin models in glossy adverts. Especially when they’re simultaneously giving us conflicting messages, bombarding us with adverts for snacks and unhealthy food, tempting us with food, and criticising celebrities for being too thin and accusing them of having eating disorders. Confusing, huh?

Then I got to thinking – have eating disorders increased because they are so widely publicised, therefore laying the idea in vulnerable people’s minds (broadcasting thinness as glamorous and successful), or are the media simply portraying the epidemic proportions of eating disorders as they are? Essentially, it’s a chicken or egg scenario – what came first- the media banging on about eating disorders and increasing the numbers who suffer from them, or the eating disorders themselves?

The media certainly have a lot to answer for. And then we’re just left with all these conflicting messages to deal with alone. And equally as vulnerable, if not more so, than we were before. I see so many patients who come to see me literally despising their bodies – wanting to rip their flesh off and hurl it at the wall. They often see this as a surface problem at first – stating “society expects me to be thin” or “I just hate my body and it’s that which is making me unhappy” – but every single patient, without fail, discovers something deeper linked to a pre-existing unhappiness within themselves which emerges upon therapeutic exploration.

What we need in times like this is support. Guidance. Empathy. Understanding from others. Identification with peers who are experiencing similar worries. Permission to see ourselves as beautiful whatever our size. This is what my good friend Ursula is seeking to facilitate through her inspiring workshops. They are truly outstanding in allowing us to connect with our bodies, understand our bodies and essentially love our bodies. The media will always be there. But we have to find a way to block their confusing messages out. To look at our bodies and “live” in and “be” in them. Our bodies will always be there wherever we are. We can’t escape them. Better to learn to love them and be happy, than spend the rest of our lives despising them and being unhappy…

 

Project Dare. Body Adoration. Release your inner dazzle.