It's a constant challenge on how to reach at-risk kids and get them on the right track.
Kansas City's branch of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company is now celebrating 25 years of doing just that through its summer camp for middle schoolers. In it, kids are learning to move in ways they never have before and, for many of them, it's moving them to open doors they never thought of.
"Most kids where I live, they usually don't listen and get in trouble most of the time," said camper Lauriano Timberlake.
For many kids, it's the first time they're exposed to dance, art and poetry. And for many it's a spring-board out of neighborhoods that don't always offer opportunities or good examples.
"Some people are outside drinking, doing drugs and everything," said camper Jasmin Baldovinos.
The structure at the Alvin Ailey Dance Company focuses kids' energies down a different path.
"In order for children to have hope for their future, they have to be able to imagine, and the arts really opens up that avenue, so they can use their minds to imagine a greater future," said camp director Michael Joy.
Beyond the arts, the kids go through personal development classes where they can talk about anything weighing them down outside the walls where they spend their days.
"Last year in sixth grade it was really hard because I had a whole bunch of people bully me," camper Dereck Richardson said.
The campers then work through their feelings with dance and creative writing.
"I was dreaming about how I could change some of the stuff that's in the world, like no crime, there's nobody on drugs or anything, no drugs at all," Tyjaz Morris said.
Alvin Ailey Dance Company had to be cut down to four weeks this year because of a lack of funding. They're hoping to bump back up to the usual six weeks next year. If you'd like to donate or would like more information about the program, click here.
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