Enlaces is a preventative program for children between the ages of 9 and 13 living in at-risk communities in Panama City. The program nurtures children's artistic potential and provides tools for personal and social development. The Enlaces program provides a safe space where children learn to respect themselves, their bodies and ideas through training in contemporary dance.
The children live in neighborhoods that are among the poorest and most violent in Panama, often combined with difficult situations at home of physical/verbal abuse, absent and overwhelmed parents. Due to overcrowding, schools work on half-day turns. This leaves children with a large amount of unsupervised, unproductive time. All combined with the lack of after school activities creates a void which is too often filled with television in the best cases, or exploited by gangs in the worst ones.
Under the conditions that these kids live, after school activities are a critical stabilizing influence. ENLACES provides a tool for change through professional dance and theater instruction along with a values-based education experience. The daily routine provides stability in their lives; all combined with psychological support, makes the children feel that they belong to a group and gives them the tools needed to cope with their environment and to become positive leaders.
To date ENLACES works with 35 children ages 9-13; they are currently working on the first phase of the program where we teach them how to understand their bodies through technique and corporal expression. The second phase works with them through their teen years, developing their abilities as artistic creators and letting them see the range of possibilities in the arts sector as adults.