Rhythm in the city

The sound of a rhythmic Samba beat can be heard in the streets of Table View as children from disadvantaged backgrounds learn the art of Latin American Dance.

As part of a community project inspired by a Self Expression and Leadership programme from Landmark Education, Jenni Beck, a sales associate from RE/MAX Property Associates, chose to give back to the local community and make a difference through her passion. “When I was going through some serious financial difficulty about two years ago, I felt like my dancing saved my life,” says Beck. “I’m so passionate about it and I adore kids and working with them. That is where the inspiration for this project came from. While dancing one has to be focused and present mentally, otherwise serious injuries can occur. So for those few hours of dancing, one can literally forget all the stress of life at the time and just dance. Another great aspect about dancing is that it is a competitive sport, so the children have something to work towards that is fun and expressive.”

The project, which is called Adopt A Dancer, is a non profit initiative that gives members of the public the opportunity to donate R50 per month and change a disadvantaged child’s life through dance. Currently the programme has 40 children who have been chosen at Reygersdal Primary School in Atlantis.  These 20 boys and 20 girls are aged between 12 and 13 years old and will be trained at their school weekly by one of the Western Cape’s leading Latin American Studios, Dance Domain in Table View – who have agreed to sponsor the dance lessons.

“Latin American dancing is a very expensive sport and out of reach for most children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds and poorer communities. These kids will be supported in being involved in as many competitions as possible and some may even be encouraged to enter the South African Championships.  Our sponsors have really been fantastic in helping us make this a reality for the children.  RE/MAX Property Associates in Table View have purchased an impressive music centre, the travel to and from Atlantis each week has been provided by Trust Property in Table View, Stephan Lourens did all the photography for the project and Ibiz Marketing created a website, all free of charge,” says Beck. “We are currently looking for a sponsor to purchase the 40 Latin American dancing shoes at a cost of R400 a pair.”

Caron Leslie, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Property Associates, says that she believes the children that are able to take part will gain so much from it. “We are proud to be a part of a project like this,” says Leslie. Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the importance of getting involved in the community can never be over-emphasised. “The real estate industry is about more than just selling a product. We deal with people and communities, and those communities often touch our hearts,” he says.

Beck says that photos of the children will be loaded onto the website and sponsors can register to adopt a dancer online. Once a sponsor has chosen a dancer, they can pay their money into the RE/MAX Fundraiser bank account using the ‘How to Adopt’ tab. Using the dancer’s name as a reference, sponsors can ideally set up an automatic monthly payment order with their bank. The children’s progress will be updated regularly and the sponsor will be able to see the difference they have made in the child’s life.

The benefits of Latin American dancing for children:

·         Teamwork - children learn teamwork in a structured environment.
·         Trust - children need to trust each other to dance in unity.
·         Leadership - children grasp leading and following through dancing.
·         Respect - dancing creates a fluid expression in harmony which cannot exist without respect for each other and respect for one's own body.
·         Keeps kids off the streets - there is a worldwide culture of salsa dancing and other Latin dancing. Many kids will find that they now have an exciting future and this may well keep kids off drugs and alcohol.
·         Health and fitness - it provides a high level of fitness.

“Whether privileged or disadvantaged, all children go through difficult stages, especially once they reach their teenage years. No matter what they are dealing with, this project gives the children something that they can work hard at, and it can give them an outlet for self expression while being fun at the same time.  Imagine what the child will feel knowing that someone is interested in their dancing and interested in their lives? This is a chance for them to see a future that is greater than their personal problems. The possibilities for them are endless,” Beck concludes.

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