Christopher Files works on a high leap in a JoyDance session. Photo courtesy Akron Beacon Journal.
Young people from three Akron public housing developments are learning movement, dance appreciation and life skills through JoyDance, a Saturday morning program for youth who are considered at risk. JoyDance has received funding for its second year. It is supported in part by a grant from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, and coordinated by the Community Drug Board, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, Ohio Ballet and Creative Action, Inc.
JoyDance promotes healthy interaction with other youngsters, provides good role models and fosters quality use of leisure time among family members in a high-risk environment. Ohio Ballet members present weekly dance classes at the Joy Park Homes Community Pride Center.
Youth in the program also attend sessions on peer mediation and nonviolent conflict resolution. Program participants receive a full breakfast and lunch along with education on good nutrition and substance abuse prevention. Participants are taken to four formal Ohio Ballet and other community performances.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, program evaluations by Creative Action, Inc., will tell if involvement with dance produces the same kind of benefits that children receive from studying music-better grades, higher self-esteem, better relations with their peers and less delinquency.
Researchers evaluate the children's school performance and self-esteem before they enter the program and after they are involved for a year. First year results will be available in March. Evaluation of a 6-week pilot program shows increased levels of self-esteem among dance class participants.
For more information about JoyDance call Creative Action, Inc., at 330/867-6336.
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