Apply to Join

Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance

by MindLeaps
Play Video
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

You are receiving this report because you have recently donated to MindLeaps' project on GlobalGiving, Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance.

Fifteen MindLeaps students performed at the international Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali, Rwanda on July 14th. The chance to perform in a professional space in front of an audience of 500 people was huge for these talented youth.

All of the eleven boys and four girls that performed come from vulnerable families. Many have spent time on the streets and all of them have dropped out of school due to their daily struggles. They have rarely had the chance to leave the neighborhood in which they live - or to see any sort of stage or professional performance. However, on this night, they were given the opportunity to not only attend an international festival, but to participate as key performers.

Learning Confidence

The performing students were chosen based on the growth, both behaviorally and cognitively, that they have exhibited in our dance program over the last one to two years. In preparation for the festival, they worked intensively with three guest professional dancers to create a piece about friendship. Over their multiple rehearsals, the dance teachers reinforced the skills that our students learn throughout the year in our normal curriculum. The students practiced creative and critical thinking by adding their own movements into the choreography. Teamwork was enforced by rehearsing over and over the group sections until they all moved in synchronization. Perhaps most importantly, the students continually grew in self-esteem throughout the rehearsal process until they proudly took to the stage, beaming in confidence.

Caitlyn, one of the dancers, wrote:

Their performance was “full of movement, passion, community and love. They are proving to me and the rest of the world that anything is possible. Watching them showcase their efforts and dance their hearts out was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

The Future

We are so proud of the talent and passion the students showed in their performance. However, this means so much more to them than just the opportunity to dance. Through the dance program, we have seen each student change. Their behavior significantly improved; they can now quickly pick up new information; and they are hopeful about their futures. While the great majority of them will not become professional dancers, the skills they are learning through dance are giving them the tools they need to succeed in the future. It is our hope that all of these students will go back to school within the next year and begin working towards a thriving life and sustainable career path. If they can bring the confidence they exhibited on stage into their studies and daily life, we have no doubt they will succeed in everything else. 

Thank you!

These students only did so well in their performance because of the consistent training they have received in the MindLeaps dance program. Thank you for making that possible!

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Josue visiting MindLeaps after school
Josue visiting MindLeaps after school

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

Six of MindLeaps' top dance students are now in school

We are excited to share that six MindLeaps' students have recently recieved scholarships to start school this year. Each one of these students has come so far since they first came to MindLeaps. Before entering the dance studio, many had low self-confidence and weren't interested in learning or continuing their education. However, after regularly attending MindLeaps' programs, they started to stand out from their peers. They demonstrated incredible determination to perfect their dance technique as well as improve their IT and English skills and began talking about their dreams for the future. We are so proud of each student for where they have come from and we would like to briefly share each of their stories with you. 

Ali

Ali, age 15, is a recipient of the Misty Copeland Scholarship. When he came to MindLeaps, he was quiet and often exhausted from sleeping on the streets. In dance class however, he began to shine. He started to come to class an hour or two early to create choreography and grew excited about where he could go in his future. Ali started boarding school in second grade in February and did amazingly well in his first term, receiving high grades and integrating well into his new community. 

Josue

Josue, age 10, used to spend his days on the streets looking for food or money and had never attended school. In addition to loving dance, Josue particularly excelled in English class and managed to learn the entire alphabet and begin reading and writing in a matter of a few months. He started first grade at a local primary school in February and placed 3rd out of his class of 36 students. He was beaming with joy when he brought his first report card to show the MindLeaps staff. 

Eric

Eric, age 17loves creating choreography and writing rap songs in English. He really connected to the success he felt when he mastered new movement after working hard in dance class and was eager to apply this mindset to other areas in his life. He was so excited to start sixth grade this year as he has long dreamed of being able to finish primary (elementary) school and now finally has the chance. Eric is working hard to prepare his sixth grade National Exam, which, if he passes, will allow him to continue onto secondary school (high school).

Rene

Rene, age 18, is an extremely talented dancer and natural leader. After his mother passed away last summer, he has selected to raise his five younger brothers and sisters, working as a dance assistant at MindLeaps in order to support them. He has also started a part-time vocational training course in tailoring, which is a very useful skillset to have in Rwanda. Rene is excited to be gaining tangible skills and a formal education that will help him be able to care for his family in the long run. 

Evode

Evode, age 17, was always one of our more serious students who faced many difficulties while living on the streets. Dance brought out a joy in him and passion for learning that completely changed the way he looked at his future. He was so happy to be selected to attend vocational training school this year, where he now has a secure place to sleep and eats daily. He selected to study welding and is working towards a certificate that will help him in finding sustainable employment in the future. Evode did great in his first term of classes and is absolutely thriving at school.

Felix

Felix, age 17, is well known at MindLeaps for his jumping ability and engaging story-telling. Like Evode, Felix struggled living on the streets, but was really drawn to dance and found in it a safe space where he could learn and succeed. After working extremely hard at MindLeaps for four years, he was selected to attend vocational training school and is also studying welding. He seems like a totally different young man when he returned to the MindLeaps center for vacation - incredibly happy and excited for his future. 

Thank you

It is because of generous donors like you that these students are able to enter our dance classes for the first time and begin the journey towards re-entering school and building a successful future. We are so excited about how far these six boys have come and are looking forward to helping our 80 other current students follow in their footsteps soon. Thank you for partnering with us in this journey. Please consider sharing the story of these boys' successes by posting this report on your social media pages.

Rene at Tailoring School
Rene at Tailoring School
Evode (right) and Felix (left) in their new dorm
Evode (right) and Felix (left) in their new dorm
Eric and Rene Dancing at MindLeaps
Eric and Rene Dancing at MindLeaps
Ali visiting his new school with Misty Copeland
Ali visiting his new school with Misty Copeland

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
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:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
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:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

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
$27,505 raised of $50,000 goal
 
387 donations
$22,495 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.