In March we launched a brand-new project in Kisumu, Kenya. Dubbed ‘Dance off the streets’, it gives street children access to after-school dance classes to improve their confidence, teamwork and overall wellbeing. Children living on the streets often have learning disabilities and face discrimination within their communities. Our project is one of the first in the region to use dance to improve their wellbeing and fight discrimination!
The children involved are either living on the street or with a disability. They often face stigma from the community and are some of the most vulnerable in society. With our dance classes, street children are developing key skills, staying in school and will have the chance to live in a discrimination-free community.
We spoke to Maggie, a youth dance trainer about her role and what it’s been like teaching dance to children so far.
Tell us about your role
I’m one of the youth dance trainers for the children here. I began teaching them in August earlier this year, and deliver after-school dance classes once a week.
What is it like for children first starting the programme?
When they first registered, all of the children I taught had very low self-esteem. They were shy and even scared to practice some of the dance moves. Many of them had problems working with others and they found it very difficult to concentrate. They also found it hard to memorize what they were being taught, as they had never done dance before!
What progress have you noticed in them?
After a number of sessions, I can see their self-esteem improving! They can now concentrate in our lessons for much longer, and they’ve started to work together as a team more. Some of the dance moves mean they have to work together in groups, and this really helps to boost their confidence.
What have you learned so far?
I have really enjoyed the programme as a teacher so far and have learned new things, including new dance moves! It has given me the opportunity to work with children, which I really enjoy, and I can’t wait to continue working with them and see them improve even more.
Tell us a story about one of the children you’ve taught
When Omondi, aged 7, started lessons he was very shy. He wouldn’t talk and he feared taking part in dance in front of the other children. He didn’t socialise with them either. But in just two months, I’ve seen such an improvement in Omondi. He’s now always willing to get involved, and if I ask for a volunteer to demonstrate a new move to the class, he always puts himself forward.
He’s also become more open with the teachers about problems he’s facing outside of the classroom and just through him sharing a lot more I’ve seen him become so much happier and more sociable.