Apply to Join

Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance

by MindLeaps
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance
Thank you Level8!
Thank you Level8!

At The Jim Bell Centre in Nyamirambo, Kigali, educational programs are continuing for the 90-110 MindLeaps students that come daily.  These children take dance and IT classes, follow an academic acceleration program, participate in health workshops and eat daily meals. We are very grateful to Level8 for their recent donation making it possible for us to continue and expand our services to these youth. Level8’s contribution is going towards three programs: family strengthening, health and sanitiation, and the new entrepreneurship training.

In January 2018, a new program was launched at MindLeaps Rwanda that addresses the needs of the caretakers (usually single mothers or grandmothers) and siblings of MindLeaps’ beneficiaries. The caretakers have enrolled in Self-Help Groups, which meet at our Centre every Sunday and receive training in basic business skills. Each group has now identified a small income generating project, and Level8 is funding six grants to the groups so they can implement their projects. In addition, Level8’s donation will go towards sanitation kits for each new student in the MindLeaps program, as well as vocational toolkits so that our students who have graduated from Vocational Training School are ready to launch their careers.

On Monday, June 11, MindLeaps is launching a program entitled International Exchange and Empowerment of Youth. This is a three-month intensive program that brings together ten youth representing five different African nationalities to train as MindLeaps instructors in Kigali.  These youth were selected for this unique opportunity based on their demonstrated talent, maturity, commitment and dedication to teaching other vulnerable children. They will study, train and live together in an immersive cultural experience mixing different nationalities, languages, religions, and talents. Over the 90 day period, these youth will become equipped to bring the MindLeaps program to their own communities upon return to their countries.

International Trainers from Uganda
International Trainers from Uganda
Performance from students at MindLeaps Rwanda
Performance from students at MindLeaps Rwanda

With the new year comes the graduation of our 2017 class and a new class of students at MindLeaps Rwanda.

2017 Graduates

Students at MindLeaps Rwanda in 2017 received 12 months of MindLeaps' programming and grew in their cognitive development for school-readiness. These students have completed the program and are now ready to reintegrate into school. Starting in January 2018, we have enrolled 18 of these students in primary school, 45 in secondary school, and 21 students in vocational training schools. We look forward to watching their progress and will keep you posted on their academic achievements throughout 2018. In addition, nine of our former students have graduated from vocational training school in 2017 and are now ready to launch their careers in their chosen professions.

End of Year Performances

To showcase what they have learned in dance and choreography, MindLeaps organizes performance opportunities for our students for end-of-year performances. In the last few months, they have performed at Les Enfants de Dieu, Heaven Restaurant, and most recently White Dove Girls School. The latter event included speeches from several of our students to an audience of representatives from local NGOs and diplomats including the US Ambassador to Rwanda. You can see a video of one of the performances here: https://vimeo.com/259006839

2018 Class

In February, MindLeaps welcomed 75 new students to join our program. These students range in ages from 9 to 17. MindLeaps Rwanda has also partnered with the Rwandan government to help increase school performance and reduce school drop-out rates among at-risk in-school youth.  The new class includes several in-school youth in addition to vulnerable out-of-school youth whom MindLeaps has been serving since 2011. As always, the Center will provide its holistic program to these youth: dance classes three days per week, academic acceleration and IT courses, daily meals, a health and sanitation program, and counseling sessions from a social worker.  MindLeaps will also be piloting a newly-designed Sexual and Reproductive Health Curriculum.

Sexual and Reproductive Health Curriculum

Working with public health educators, MindLeaps is addressing challenges that our students face through a new youth-centered, culturally-sensitive curriculum to provide education on sexual and reproductive health. The creators of the curriculum have done significant research on existing sexual and reproductive health curricula in the region and worked to be in line with Rwandan Ministry of Health priorities. The curriculum will run from May through December 2018, and on March 26, parents/guardians of the kids will meet with MindLeaps staff to promote cooperation and collaboration on the topics to be discussed throughout the year.

Welcome Class of 2018!
Welcome Class of 2018!
New curriculum to be piloted in 2018
New curriculum to be piloted in 2018
MindLeaps Students
MindLeaps Students

As another year comes to a close in Rwanda, MindLeaps reflects on the full cycle of our students’ progress:

Current MindLeaps Students
Our class of new girls who joined in 2017 have completed MindLeaps' full program and are ready to move on to school in January 2018. We are now finding sponsors to support them at the school that is right for their age and education level.  Some will go to primary school, others to secondary school and still others will enroll in vocational training.  The girls are looking forward to returning to school and pursuing their career goals, like Joyeuse who wants to become a doctor, and Francine who dreams of becoming a secondary school teacher. You can read biographies of our students who are ready for the next phase of their lives here: http://mindleapssponsorships.weebly.com.  

On November 4, several of our students performed at Heaven Restaurant.  This gave them the opportunity to collaborate and showcase their progress. The performance was staged by American dancers Chase Johnsey and Carlos Renedo of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

Graduated MindLeaps Students
For our students who completed MindLeaps program in 2016 or earlier, their schooling continues. They recently completed their Term 3 exams and will be moving to the next grade level.  Most of the students improved in GPAs over the course of the year and several scored in the 90% range and higher. You can see an example of the report of one of our top students, Ally, below. Several of our students are away at boarding school, and now that the academic year in Rwanda has finished, we are happy to see them visiting our Center again. Our alumni always know that they can come back to MindLeaps during school breaks to catch up on their dance classes and have a meal.

Future MindLeaps Students
In January 2018, MindLeaps Rwanda will welcome a new class of vulnerable youth. As always, they will begin with our dance curriculum that targets seven cognitive and social-emotional learning skills, followed by academic acceleration courses and IT training. In 2018, we will also be piloting an expanded sexual and reproductive health curriculum to help our adolescent age girls and boys. We look forward to sharing with you news of our new class of students in our next report.

From MindLeaps students and staff in Rwanda, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and new year.

Future doctor, Joyeuse
Future doctor, Joyeuse
Ally
Ally's Term 3 Report Card
Performance at Heaven Restaurant
Performance at Heaven Restaurant
MindLeaps at Ubumuntu Festival
MindLeaps at Ubumuntu Festival

Throughout the summer, our students leapt to new heights – on the stage and in the classroom.

In July, our students were invited to perform at the international Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali, Rwanda. The festival aims to promote peace building and healing from violence. MindLeaps Rwanda teacher Ssali Eugene and American dancer Caitlyn Casson worked with several students to choreograph and stage a new work that was performed at the festival. The piece, called “Torn Together”, was performed on the first night of the festival in front of an audience of thousands. 

After the performance, Caitlyn said, “These children have come so far. When you see them on stage, you cannot imagine that they do not go to school or have a safe place to sleep at night. On stage, they are free – and they are artists.”

You can watch a video on MindLeaps' participation in Ubumuntu 2017 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHxCrm_vhUA

In August, MindLeaps welcomed two prestigious dancers from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo to our MindLeaps Center in Rwanda.  Chase Johnsey, winner of The Critics Circle Best Male Dancer prize at the National Dance Awards, joined Carlos Renedo as part of MindLeaps’ Train the Trainers program. Chase and Carlos provided 40 hours of intensive classical ballet training and contemporary dance technique to MindLeaps instructors and advanced dance students.

Chase and Carlos also visited several of our kids' families to learn more about their lives and the challenging situations they face every day. After visiting one of the student’s homes, Carlos said: “The first thing that caught my attention was the size of what they call their home… a tiny bench, a mattress on the floor and a couple cooking pots against the corner. That is it… Despite it being the first time that I personally experienced real poverty first hand, Passy’s mom made sure I felt welcome... It certainly is a very humbling experience to get to see where and in what conditions these loving people live in.” 

Our partnership with Akazi Kanoze also launched over the summer. Akazi Kanoze’s mission is to provide Rwandan youth with the employability skills, capital, and support necessary to take advantage of economic opportunities. This partnership helped MindLeaps' students take the next steps in their careers. Our older students have frequently been out of school for many years, and it is too late for many of them to return to primary school.  For these youth, once they have been rehabilitated through MindLeaps dance program, we raise scholarships to send those children to vocational training centers rather than regular primary school. We have several students currently in vocational school, and several more that have already graduated. We partnered with Akazi Kanoze to provide our graduated VTC students with the employability, business, and entrepneurial skills needed to significantly contribute to the economic development of their families, communities and country. 

After a summer filled with dance, inspiring international guest artists and job skills training, these youth are taking important steps to becoming independent, successful members of their community.  Thank you for making this transformation possible!

MindLeaps students perform at Ubumuntu
MindLeaps students perform at Ubumuntu
Dance class with Chase Johnsey
Dance class with Chase Johnsey
Home visit
Home visit

Links:

Students learning to grow kitchen gardens
Students learning to grow kitchen gardens

MindLeaps students took another step forward in their personal development this spring through a kitchen gardens initiative with the local Rwandan government.

Rwanda local agencies and 24 youth from Nyarugenge District joined MindLeaps students to plant kitchen gardens that will help our students and their families improve their nutrition. These gardens will add vegetables to their diet and excess produce will be sold to provide a much needed source of income. After spending time planting the gardens, the students were given seeds so that they can plant kitchen gardens with their families and teach their relatives what they learned during this activity. 

Additionally, the local organization Kigali Farms has partnered with MindLeaps to teach our students about the role of mushrooms in their lives. Kigali Farms is an organization that works to help fight chronic malnutrition by helping mushrooms become a meaningful part of the Rwandan diet. 

MindLeaps students are also looking forward to several exciting events coming up this summer.

Two dancers from Les Ballets Trockadero will be visiting MindLeaps Rwanda this July and August. Carlos Renedo, originally from Barcelona, Spain, has performed in musicals, TV, and in several dance companies. Chase Johnsey is from Winter Haven, Florida, and has performed in various roles with Les Ballets Trockadero over the last 13 years. The dancers will train our teachers in classical ballet technique. We are very grateful to them both for volunteering their time and officially joining our International Artists' Fund.

Also this summer, MindLeaps students have been invited to return to the Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali.  Some of our students will have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience of thousands. This year, MindLeaps Rwanda teacher Ssali Eugene will collaborate with American dancer Caitlyn Casson to choreograph and stage a work for ten of MindLeaps' advanced student dancers. We are grateful for the support of the US Embassy, Public Affairs Office, for making this possible.

Stay tuned for our next report with photos from the festival and all these exciting summer happenings!

Carlos Renedo, visiting dancer to Rwanda in 2017
Carlos Renedo, visiting dancer to Rwanda in 2017
MindLeaps Rwanda teacher Eugene Ssali
MindLeaps Rwanda teacher Eugene Ssali
Contemporary dancer & choreographer Caitlyn Casson
Contemporary dancer & choreographer Caitlyn Casson
 

About Project Reports

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.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

MindLeaps

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MindLeaps
Project Leader:
Rebecca Davis
Astoria, New York United States
$25,778 raised of $50,000 goal
 
342 donations
$24,222 to go
Donate Now Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.