Resettled from Syria to the USA, Akram, Retaj, Sama, Shaimaa, Shehad, Rawan, and two sets of young brothers (names withheld) are now part of the Chicago community.
Over the past year, they have had weekly dance and music classes at Performing Arts Limited. Their hard work and commitment could be seen at their recitals and performances around the neighborhood including Lincolnwood Town Center Mall and with Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble.
What wasn't necessarily viewed by the audiences is the incredible impact dance and music education is having on these children. All students have shown incredible growth in personal and social development. Retaj (age 10) has jumped to the intermediate level of ballet technique and is a leader in the class. Akram (age 6) is writing his own songs fusing Arab and Western music. Their parents, as well, are becoming more integrated in the community as a result.
Our goal is to keep the momentum going by enrolling them in continuing, formal dance and music lessons alongside their new friends. Every $400 will cover one child in one 60-minute class per week for the entire year. We are asking for $450 for each student to also cover the costs of new shoes, the costume for performances, tickets and fees. There will also be an Arab dance & music celebration and neighborhood workshop in July 2017.
Class dancewear, instruments, equipment and some costumes are donated. In addition, volunteer drivers and translators/therapists check in on the families regularly and drive the students to and from class each week. The families involved have members battling cancer, face trauma from what they witnessed in the conflict in Syria, and/or struggle after years in transition.
A concise list of the impact dance has on children:
-focuses on teamwork and social inclusion
-develops a better understanding of themselves, both physically and mentally
-helps build understanding of others and the world around them
-develops perseverance and self-motivation
-improves child’s confidence levels (especially in English)
-strengthens the social cohesion and network of parents and families
We all benefit from these kids getting an arts education alongside their neighborhood peers. And we can all relate to them. They are part of our community. They are the future of it.
Some info about us:
The kids participating are students of dance educator Shawn Lent and music instructor Marwan Kamal at Performing Arts Limited in Chicago, IL.
All funds will be withdrawn and managed by Shawn to the benefit of the mentioned students. Dance Peace is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Dance Peace will be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.