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.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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