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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
Chantal (Far right) with First Group of Girls
Chantal (Far right) with First Group of Girls

You are recieving this report because you recently donated to MindLeaps' project on GlobalGiving titled "Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance."

We are only a few weeks into the New Year and 2016 is already looking to be a big year for MindLeaps Rwanda.  We have added new students to our program in Rwanda and are now serving 90 students daily – with 54 hours of dance classes per week.

Project of the Month

First of all, we are very honored to announce that this project "Leap Ahead: Emowering Street Youth Through Dance" has been chosen as GlobalGiving's project of the month this January. Each month GlobalGiving chooses a project with an "earth-changing idea" and grants them a special donation at the end of the month. You can read more about our selection here. This recognition on the behalf of MindLeaps is only made possible by donors like you who have supported us through GlobalGiving. Thank you for helping us achieve this!

The Newest Addition to our Family: The Girls’ Program

Secondly, we have an exciting new addition to MindLeaps: the girls program. This program is rapidly expanding after being officially launched in November 2015 by Misty Copeland, MindLeaps’ newest cultural ambassador. We are excited to have Misty, who is the first African-American female principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, as a representative for this very important new step for MindLeaps in Rwanda.

The group of 15 girls that Misty met come from vulnerable families in the neighboring area. Given that they have homes to live in, the girls we serve are a bit unlike the boys that attend our program who are classified as 'street youth' and either live on the streets or spend a majority of time on the streets. While many of these girls have a home and most attend school, they are still extremely vulnerable. Given the instability in family structures and economics in the surrounding neighborhood, these girls are at risk of dropping out or even resorting to the streets themselves.

The girls have already integrated well into the MindLeaps’ family. They have quickly picked up MindLeaps’ dance curriculum despite only learning on the weekends and have demonstrated they can easily keep up with their male peers when they sit in on the boys’ dance classes.  We have also seen this group of girls’ work-ethic and self-esteem change. One student, Chantal, said that since coming to MindLeaps, “we’ve changed. We’re not the same as we were before. We’ve learned the importance of respect and hard work. We are taking the lessons we learned at MindLeaps to our homes.” MindLeaps is excited to see where this group of girls goes in 2016.

A New Group of Girls

In addition to this inaugural group of girls, we have just added a new group of 15 girls this January.  All of these girls are out-of-school youth and will study at MindLeaps every day. Many of these girls dropped out of school because of a lack of school fees or issues at home. Without MindLeaps, they wouldn’t have the chance to continue their education. Some of them have never attended school, others have finished a few years of elementary school, and others have finished elementary school, but were never given the chance to continue on to middle or high school.

Without a chance to further their education, these girls will remain vulnerable. In their future, it will be difficult for them to get a sustainable job in the formal sector and they are at risk of getting caught up in occupations like prostitution. At MindLeaps, they will be able to rewrite their stories for the future. They will learn cognitive and behavioral skills through dance and critical vocational skills through English and IT classes. Like the boys, once they have succeeded at this level, they too will be given the opportunity to go on to further education either through boarding or vocational training school.

Thank you

It is only because of donors like you that we are able to help these children create a better future for themselves in 2016. Thank you for being a critical part of the transformation in these 90 boys’ and girls’ lives. To widen awareness of our work, please consider sharing this story on your social media pages.

Misty Officially Launches the Girls Program
Misty Officially Launches the Girls Program

Links:

Ari - a student at MindLeaps
Ari - a student at MindLeaps

You are recieving this project report because you have donated to MindLeaps' project 'Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance'.

Special Training 

MindLeaps’ most advanced students have begun doing special dance training with Eugene, Country Director and former dancer with Amizero Contemporary. These students have been at our center for over a year, and while they have changed immensely during that time in our regular program, Eugene is working to help them move to the next level.

Eugene is using dance to emphasize a series of values – values that are an extension of the cognitive and non-cognitive skills embedded in our curriculum (see link below).

Learning to Dream of the Future

First, these advanced students are being challenged to reorient the way they think about time and to establish a vision for the direction they want to go in their lives. At the end of each dance class, students are challenged to think about what they want to accomplish next month, next year, and with their own lives. Just like in dance, where each movement and each count needs to be perfected, Eugene is encouraging students to be cognizant of time in their own lives. He is challenging them to not passively accept life on the streets, but to be aware of every day that is passing – to be maximizing each opportunity at MindLeaps so that they may have a chance to leave the streets by being selected for boarding or vocational training school.

Learning Creativity and Teamwork

Secondly, Eugene is using dance as a means to teach creativity and teamwork. In the students' own choreography, they are learning to go beyond the popular Nigerian dance moves that dominate the dancing culture of Rwandan youth and take on African contemporary movement that requires a higher level of maturity and emotional awareness. They are also learning how to partner and what it looks like to collaborate with each other instead of always competing against one another.

The success of Ari: A Top Student at MindLeaps

Ari, one of our top students, has transformed immensely after this special training. He has been on the streets for a number of years and when he first came to MindLeaps he lacked purpose, discipline, and motivation. His focus is improving and he is rapidly learning to adopt the fluid style of contemporary movement. Ari’s improvement in concentration and discipline has also helped him perform better in IT and English classes too. Being a part of this training, where he has to come to MindLeaps early in the morning each day, has also helped him to stop doing drugs. Since he joined MindLeaps, he has been struggling between the world he sees on the streets and the world he is a part of at our center. He told us that having this specialized training has helped him to lose interest in doing drugs as he sees that he can dance so much better when he is sober. Ari has taken Eugene’s values to heart and we hope that he will soon be one of our students sent to vocational training school so that he can fully exit life on the street. 

Thank you!

Thanks to your donations, 12 students have been able to receive 13 hours of specialized dance training this month and 75 students have received over 80 hours of dance classes. Your donation is making real change in these children's lives.

If you enjoyed reading about Ari and the power of dance to change lives, please consider sharing this report through your social media pages.

Eugene speaking with students after class
Eugene speaking with students after class

Links:

 

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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
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