The Dance School Challenge
Last September, 119 people came together to donate $5,230 to Tiny Toones Dance School Challenge. Our first major fundraising campaign was a huge success and enabled us to continue our dance classes into 2013 and to become a permanent fixture on Global Giving.
In the year that followed almost 1,000 children and young people came to Tiny Toones to create dance and music instead of slipping into more destructive paths, using this as a springboard for education and personal development. Our offer of creative arts, education and mentoring is unique in the slum areas in which we operates, as are the opportunities for expression we provide.
Tiny Toones' kids released an original music album and video in early 2013, danced at 'the Cambodian Oscars,' and have again been shortlisted for the UNICEF Sport for Education award at the forthcoming 2013 Beyond Sport awards. None of this would have been possible without your help. We are now launching the second annual Dance School Challenge – please consider supporting us again to keep our classes going into 2014.
The children that come to Tiny Toones receive little support or guidance at home, at school (for those that attend) or in their community. Meanwhile, hip-hop is immensely popular amongst Cambodian youth. Break-dancing hooks their interest because it’s part of a culture that feels young, exciting and relevant to their lives. Its appeal provides the basis for all of Tiny Toones wider work on personal development, social integration and education.
Break-dancing is physically and mentally demanding. It promotes active lifestyles, inner-strength and a sense of achievement and self-worth. The change that takes place in terms of confidence and self-esteem is visibly apparent and transformative for the children involved.
These children become part of a positive community. Our dancers perform throughout Cambodia and beyond. Their achievements – both as dancers and through the education they have gained – inspire the next generation.
More than 40% of Cambodians are under 18 years of age. While 39% of children aged 5-14 are involved in child labour, only one in three stay in school beyond primary level. It is estimated that over 20,000 young people live and/or work on the streets.
Tiny Toones’ students are aged 5-24 and are particularly vulnerable to drug and substance abuse, sexual and labor exploitation, domestic violence, and gang involvement. A quarter of the children at Tiny Toones report never having attended school. They all face multiple barriers to attendance and progress as a result of their difficult backgrounds, the fees involved and being compelled to generate income. From as young as five many of these children are begging or collecting cans from garbage, or working as garment workers.
As the project has grown, Tiny Toones has maintained its grassroots appeal by employing former students in all of the creative teaching posts. They are perfectly placed to understand the needs of the next generation, to build strong relationships and to act as positive role models.
“Before Tiny Toones I was living on the streets, picking up drugs and taking glue.”
Houch was living on the streets in Battambang when he first saw Tiny Toones perform. At the age of 14 he left for Phnom Penh – 300km away – following an argument with his mother.
“Dancing helps to stop using drugs – break-dancing is important to me and it makes me feel happy I do that instead.”
At Tiny Toones Houch found a new family. Without Tiny Toones he says he would still be living on the streets, stealing and buying drugs. Instead he is dancing, getting an education, keeping an eye on the younger kids and helping with creative classes.
He had dropped out of school at an early age and found it strange to be in a classroom at Tiny Toones. With financial and emotional support he returned to school and completed grade 8 earlier this year. He has rekindled his relationship with his mother. She’s proud that he’s off drugs and he visited her when Tiny Toones went to Battambang last year.
“Tiny Toones helps kids to know what is right and what is wrong. With Tiny Toones help I am back at school.”
To help us to keep helping kids like Houch please consider making a donation at Global Giving or Global Giving UK again this year and telling your friends and family about our work.
New term at Tiny Toones
On 6 May Tiny Toones launched our 'new term' offering the kids more classes than ever before. With the emphasis on participation, creativity and - crucially - fun, we're now running 9-10 classes simultaneously throughout the day to smaller groups of children arranged by age. This means more support for everyone and they all get to participate in every class, from dance and music to English and computing. The enthusiasm and excitement of the children has been an instant reward and shows us how well it's working. After the first few weeks of the new term Dany (13) says "I was scared when I first came to Tiny Toones but now I have friends and I'm so happy to study all of the classes, especially English, rap, dance and Khmer. I want Tiny Toones to help all the kids in Cambodia." Phanna (12) says "I'm so thankful to all of the teachers, they teach me about dancing, Khmer and English and they also give me new ideas. Tiny Toones is so important because they help kids with no money or school. I hope more and more kids come to Tiny Toones. We still need to raise money to continue running these classes throughout the year. To make a donation visit our Global Giving or our Global Giving UK page.
New Tiny Toones music video and album
Tiny Toones and 391 Films have together produced a music video for the all-new Tiny Toones song “Anakut,” featuring the new generation of Tiny Toones performers. The song is the title track from the new album and was written and recorded by six Tiny Toones rappers aged between 12 and 15 and MC Voch, Tiny Toones’ music teacher. The song is all about the hopes and dreams of the young rappers: how they want to become doctors, engineers and artists. The video depicts them in their dream occupations and the kids had a great time making it in locations across Phnom Penh. Our favourite part of the lyrics comes when they rap about how they want to help rebuild their homeland, Cambodia. Other songs on the album (for those who don't speak Khmer) are about a single Mom supporting her family, about the problems that kids go through and about how they've changed their lives and are now positive about the future. The kids involved were interviewed by Phnom Penh's entertainment weekly 'the Advisor' for an article which you can read here. Contact us if you're interested in getting a copy of the album. Our thanks go to the Prince Claus Fund and Sabay for making both the album and the music video possible.
Guests galore at launch party
Over 100 people came to Equinox in Phnom Penh for the album launch party at the end of March. The show began when dancers in special camouflage costumes 'came alive' out of the artwork on display and started dancing. This led into an incredible two hour show featuring over 30 different performers. Tiny Toones music and dance came together for one night. Brand new dance choreography was set to live performances of tracks from the album. In addition to kids from every age group at Tiny Toones, guest stars included spoken word poet Kosal and rapper Grant MCG Massey. General Manager Shhort MC'ed the whole evening and ensured that everyone understood just how far all of the kids had come to be able to perform in such a show. Thanks to everyone that came along and helped make it such a special night. You can see photos from the night on Tiny Toones website.
Tiny Toones year in review
In 2012 Tiny Toones moved our drop-in centre to a fantastic new location where more children than ever before were able to attend classes in creative hip-hop arts and non-formal education. Other highlights included unforgettable tours of Melbourne, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand, and being shortlisted for the UNICEF Sport for Education Award at the Beyond Sport Awards in London. We’d like to thank everyone that supported us in 2012. You can read all about our activities and achievements – as well as KK’s reflections on the year – in the Tiny Toones Annual Report 2012.
End of month 'show and tell'
The last Friday of every month is now dedicated to celebrating the achievements of the kids and showing off what they've learnt over the preceding weeks. Earlier today all of the children gathered in the courtyard to applaud those getting certificates and to show off their dancing, singing, and basketball shooting (and to cheer on the contestants in our first 'typing race'). Proceedings ended with a bang as kids, staff and visitors got involved with a whole lot of traditional Khmer dancing in the rain. Guests are welcome so if you want to visit the centre and attend the next 'show and tell' please contact us.
“I danced two, three years, then my Dad he passed away. And I don't know what to do with my life.”
Fresh first joined Tiny Toones in 2005 when founder KK used to teach break-dancing to the local kids in his front room. Now he is teaching and inspiring the next generation. Watch the film that tells his story at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qhgBNlYlNc&feature=youtu.be.
“Here at Tiny Toones it is my second family. We work together, dance, we show love to each other and always stick together.”
Tiny Toones Dance School
Thanks to the generosity of Tiny Toones supporters a phenomenal $5,740 has been donated to our dance classes for children from the poorest neighbourhoods of Phnom Penh.
Using these funds Tiny Toones runs three dance classes every weekday. Since the Dance School Challenge was held in September almost 200 children have come to the center every day and the dance class is by far the biggest draw among our creative classes. The other classes on offer include rapping, DJ, music production, English, computers and Khmer (the Cambodian national language).
A Tiny Toones Christmas
Tiny Toones hosted our first Christmas party at the Chba Ampov center. At first we had no electricity (a common problem for those living in the area) which called for some improvised games. Happily the power returned just in time and we were able to fit in all the original Tiny Toones' music we had hoped for, along with break-dancing performances and battles.
To finish we had food, drink and a whole load of presents thanks to the generous support of Randy Sary and Sabay. You can see photos of the day at Tiny Toones website (http://www.tinytoones.org/photos/) and on youtube you'll find video footage of the break-dancing battle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-kPcu-zkRo&feature=youtu.be) and the dance performance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-pAqqBGZjY&feature=youtu.be).
From conferences to computer game championships
Tiny Toones dancers are much in demand throughout Phnom Penh and there have been some incredible performances in the last few months. We kicked off December with over 650 people attending Australia Volunteers International's Forum on Volunteerism and International Volunteer's Day with Tiny Toones dancing and music on both days.
After that it was time to don extra special outfits for a very different show at the National Computer Game Championships, hosted by Sabay. Footage of the performance was posted on Tiny Toones facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=571299892886147&set=vb.100000184252776&type=2&theater.
Most unusually, Tiny Toones trained 200 human rights activists to dance Gangnam Style In preparation for International Human Rights Day 2012. Starting on December 8th, more than 42,000 Cambodians took part in a series of events. This culminated in a mass protest in front of the National Assembly which put the Gangnam Style dance to good use. With alternative lyrics ("stop evicting us") and t-shirts signed by over 11,000 Cambodians, the activists found a novel way of conveying their anger over forced evictions.
Tiny Toones is proud to have been a part of this event and to have been able to support those communities affected. A video of the protest is available on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdeIq4Jh26w.
Education for all
In addition to all the creativity, we've desperately trying to raise the funds necessary to continue our education classes through 2013 - please support us on Global Giving (http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/tiny-toones-education-for-all/) or, If you are living and working in the UK, your donation can go even further with Global Giving UK (http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/tiny-toones-education-for-all/)!
Tiny Toones Dance School Challenge concluded on 30 September 2012 having raised a phenomenal $5,230. All of these funds will go directly into providing Tiny Toones dance classes for children from the poorest neighbourhoods of Phnom Penh.
Using these funds Tiny Toones ran three dance classes every weekday throughout October, pausing only to respect the week of mounring that followed the passing of the King Father in Cambodia. Almost 200 children came to the center every day, with 107 attending the dance classes including 19 kids who were completely new to Tiny Toones.
The final class of the day is in many ways the most interesting. Established as a ‘girls only’ breakdancing class it is intended to provide a more welcoming and less intimidating atmosphere for girls as Cambodia is a traditionally repressive society, where individual expression is too often actively discouraged.
This class is led by Keo Srey (aka “Diamond”), Cambodia’s first B-Girl and the only female dancer in Tiny Toones ‘A-team,’ famous in Cambodia and beyond (they have performed in Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand in 2012 alone). Diamond was herself forced to live and work on the streets during her adolescence and provides a role model and an inspiration for the vulnerable and at-risk young women that come to Tiny Toones.
There are now 50 girls regularly attending break-dancing sessions on average, almost half the total number of dancers and many are starting to participate in performances that would have been unthinkable a short while ago (see pictures below).
As well as performances in the center and in the community, October saw a very special performance by Tiny Toones very best dancers. Tiny Toones performed ‘Carnet de Voyage’ (“Travel Book”) at Chenla Theater alongside French dance company Racine Carrees and under the guidance of choreographer Nabil Oeulhadj.
As well as being an incredible experience for those involved the show was free to attend which meant many of our kids could see their peers and role models in action. The performances were a huge source of pride to everyone at Tiny Toones and showed just what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. You can see footage of the final two scenes on Tiny Toones’ website.
In addition to all the creativity, October was a month to celebrate as Tiny Toones directly supported 18 of the kids we've been educating to re-enter primary school alongside a futher six who were joining primary school for the first time in their lives. Aged from eight to fourteen, we're excited to be helping them on their way. We've launched a new campaign to help us give 500 children an education in 2013 - please support us on Global Giving or Global Giving UK!
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.
Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
Still want to help?
Support another project run by Tiny Toones that needs your help, such as:
Tiny Toones volunteer