Uganda hosts more refugees than any other country in Africa, fleeing from conflict and famine. In the capital, Kampala, MindLeaps offers urban refugee youth energizing, fun dance classes in a safe space. MindLeaps' program develops cognitive and life skills, which help youth gain knowledge, confidence and hope. Through participation at MindLeaps, these youth show an increase in responsible and healthy life choices, greater school success, and deeper integration into the community and workforce.
Of the 1.3 million refugees in Uganda, 61% are under age 18. MindLeaps works with youth from 7 countries, including South Sudan, DRC and Somalia - who have fled due to conflict, famine and drought. The trauma they have endured has left them feeling that there is no hope or reason to survive. They lack basic necessities & are idle. To motivate them to access services, resist violence, and become educated and healthy, they need something that will give them regularity, hope, and a sense of family.
MindLeaps' staff teach and measure changes in seven cognitive and behavioral skills. While the youth come for a "fun dance class," they are actually engaging in a scientifically studied activity comprised of movement patterns to develop critical learning skills. MindLeaps also provides nutritious food, improving their health and giving them energy. They can then apply the cognitive and emotional intelligence gained at MindLeaps to succeed in school, enter the workplace, and leap forward in life.
MindLeaps' goal in Uganda is to combine Kampala-based community programs with in-depth programming in more refugee settlements. In the long-term, the MindLeaps alumni become integrated, positive, and contributing members of their communities. In addition, MindLeaps has developed a model centered on the training and support of local youth to carry the program forward, providing employment opportunities for refugees and local Ugandans.