GRANT #331:

Windom’s Dancing Classrooms

01/28/2019
If Kids Learn Social Dancing, They Also Learn To Be Kinder, More Respectful People. Awesome!

If you ever were forced to take partner dance classes when you were in elementary school, chances are you remember quite a bit about the experience, maybe you even remember some of the old steps.

Most importantly, you probably remember that you were never left out, and neither was anybody else.

That’s part of what makes Heart of Dance and Dancing Classrooms so effective at helping kids to learn how to move in rhythm with others, to partner with different people, to master new skills, and to practice respect and good manners. And it’s why the mother of a 1st grader at Windom Elementary in Minneapolis applied for this Awesome Without Borders grant to continue the program at that school this year, even though her child won’t be eligible for the program until 5th grade. She wrote, “I see how important a program like this can be. I believe the world can only benefit from developing more children who can collaborate with and respect all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, etc.”

The students have ten weeks of twice-weekly dance lessons. Nobody gets to pair up and stick together, everybody changes partners throughout the classes. This means the kids have to dance with people they might ordinarily not interact with much. It’s a great opportunity to overcome stereotypes and prejudices, and the messages they hear about diversity and inclusion come to life in dance class. Religion forbids dancing? You can create props or help with the music. Not allowed to touch the opposite gender? Same-gender partners or “ghost” partners for solo dancing. No English? No problem, dance is a universal language. Differently abled? They’ll figure it out and you will dance. And, oh yeah, grades go up, fitness improves, and parents report their children seem more confident.

Yes, Windom Elementary, you may have this dance. (Follow along with Windom on their Facebook page.)