Guest Post by Kevin A. Joseph, Co-Artistic Director of Purelements: An Evolution in Dance
(Brooklyn, NY) – Purelements: An Evolution in Dance directly serves about 2000 students in our in-school and afterschool programs across Brooklyn. Amid city-wide school closures, our mission has revealed itself in a much stronger light. The need to support our students and NYC schools is at its all time high and we’re not going anywhere. We want to assist in keeping our students and families grounded and forward thinking as we all work through this difficult time together.
Of course, I worry about our students and their families. I worry about how they are coping in the midst of all of this, being plunged into this new reality that requires so much from them without warning. Movement classes are more important now than ever, because the students are stuck behind a computer doing academics all day.
Purelements COAR Intensive Program
On the other side it has been amazing watching the Purelements team come through for our kids. We have a teacher conducting a West African Dance class live from Guinea West Africa. We have a staff person conducting a Google Classroom workshop live from Tokyo.
Here are some of the ways we have been supporting our students and our community:
Distance Learning – Continuing to offer classes (Dance, Music, African Drumming, Urban Fashion, Chess, Step, Yoga, and more) is essential in maintaining our students ability to cope in this crisis. It’s an opportunity to stabilize their emotions by seeing a familiar face who was teaching them, now on screen, and concerned about their well-being. We’ve even had Virtual Kickoff parties to hype up their classes.
Emotional and Academic Support – Parents are stressed with being in the position of trying to support their children academically while trying to work from home, or not. With that, we’ve been offering to assemble our teams to make wellness calls to each of the families homes. We want to conduct a survey to find out what’s happening in the home as far technology, homework support, and stress level, and report back to the city with our findings.
Connecting to Resources – NYC has created resources for individual support that our students and their families can benefit from in the form of loss of job coverage, emotional and mental support, and rental assistance. We want to make sure our community is aware of and can access these resources. We are also helping our families get their children’s names on the DOE list for devices if they don’t have any at home for their distance learning.
Parent Workshops – Parents need support as well. We are looking into doing virtual classes for our parents as well. Meditation, Yoga, fitness, etc. With losing family members and also jobs everyone needs some kind of support.
The Arts have always been at the epicenter of a society’s progress and uniting in times of darkness. It’s the eye to the light at the end of the tunnel; it’s the comfort and strength in times of doubt; and it’s the binding and uniting of a community spread apart by decree. These conversations and practices are necessary and integral to the growth of a society in a new normal.