Tuesday, August 23, 2011


From Rogerspark.com, Posted on August 23, 2011

808’s Youth Empowerment thru Dance to Perform on Thursday, Aug 25th

By Dominique Johns, special for rogerspark.com
Three highly skilled dancers, all young Rogers Park residents in their early 20s, a youth leader, and a theatrical and talented young lady joined forces this summer, out of a mutual concern over gullable at risk youth in the North of Howard community of Rogers Park.

Only five short weeks ago we created 808’s: Youth Empowerment through Dance. Our vision: to create a refuge for the youth that helps empower, motivate, inspire, and build hope; to help young teens be more in control of their own minds.

Knowing that youth in the community would unite around the art forms of hip hop and break dance, three dancers and choreographers, Jermaine Hawk, Jerrell Hawk, and Jeremiah Hentz, with the assistance of Thomas (“Bud”) Sanders and me, the author of this piece, began offering dance sessions to area youth. Initially, ten to fifteen kids showed up; now we have nearly 30 energized kids participating in practice, preparing to perform on Thursday, August 25th.

Sex, drugs, and gangs are all factors of what these children see and know by what goes on in their neighborhoods. We aim to show that hard work, dedication, and consistency will help pave the way for all of these young teens to make positive future life decisions.  Dancing frees the mind, body, and soul bringing laughter and joy with no worries. Through dance we want to help the 808’s participants realize that there is more to our world than the block they live on and we want them to feel apart of a team and not alone.

Community leaders in the Rogers Park area, including Family Matters and the helpful staff at Willye B. White Center, have enabled us to have dance practice at the Willye B. White facility on West Howard Street. The 15-25 youth are becoming more and more excited about being a part of the 808’s performance and the big transformation that this activity can offer each of us and to the greater community. The teens are working hard non stop to put on their very first big performance, which will be on Thursday, August 25th, 6:30PM at the Willye B. White field house 1610 West Howard. Admission is free.

Our discipline, hard work and our love for team work and dance will prove that the 808’s are more than ready to rock the stage. We are ready for the 808’s to be heard.  So come rock the beat and become elite with the 808’s: Youth Empowerment thru Dance.

Dominique Johns is a student and an aspiring actress who moved to the North of Howard neighborhood earlier this year. She is offering her numerous talents helping 808s achieve it’s goals.

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