Guest post by TAEP volunteer, Kara McNamee.
Nothing can compare to 25 radiating faces as they move to the groove of some of todays top hip hop songs. Leg kicks and fist pumps alongside funky spins and wiggly arms. Can you say FUN? This past Friday, the 22nd, the Arts Empowerment Project hosted a Free Art Friday at the YWCA at Park Road. The day consisted of a story time adventure and later on a dance lesson with guest instructor, Tequila Dawkins. The Arts Empowerment project continues to perpetuate positive behavior in children within the greater Charlotte area.
Starting the day off right, kids aged 5-12 sat around volunteer Kara McNamee to read up on “When the Beat Was Born”, a fictional story book surrounding the beginnings of hip hop and the beneficial impact it holds. DJ Kool Herc, the main character, encouraged breakdancing with his music to prevent violence. This breakdancing went on to define a new culture within the arts community and essentially went on to make a bigger impact in the world. By reading this book, the children can begin to understand other forms of expression that are safe and internally rewarding. This sure got the kids ready for some dancing!
Instructor Tequila Dawkins came in ready to get the kids started. Beginning with some simple movements, the group started to loosen up. Not long after the introduction, the kids were able to advance to some serious dance moves. I see ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in many of their futures. Of course the day wouldn’t be complete without the nae nae and the whip!
Endless fun filled the day from reading to dancing to playful communication between the kids and staff members. That’s exactly what the Arts Empowerment is about. Empowering children to believe they have the confidence to do anything. Even giving them a simple dance lesson can build their esteem and give them the encouragement they need. Encouragement to express themselves, to love themselves and to respect themselves. Free Art Friday is truly a rewarding experience for these children and we continue to look forward to ones in the near future.