With the long list of benefits attributed to ballroom dance, children attending schools in various LA County school districts are fortunate to have a special arts program called Conga Kids in their district.
The program consists of a 10 week, 20 lesson curriculum for 5th grade classrooms offering dances such as salsa, merengue, foxtrot, tango, swing and more. There are also written assignments, lecture-demonstrations and assessments providing opportunities for parent student interaction. Throughout the length of the program the students work towards a final performance for their parents, teachers and peers at a culmination event. Later going on to compete (in clusters) in a team competition at a grand finale event.
The program’s mission is to provide an environment that teaches key inter-personal communication skills by way of a stimulating partner dance program. This dynamic program is proclaimed to create a foundation of respect, confidence, leadership and teamwork, some of which are also part of the Conga Kid philosophy. The other principles are cooperation, creating an encouraging climate, cultural and community connection and to have fun. The program has also been credited for helping to develop creative potential in students.
More than 3,500 children from more than 30 schools in the LA Unified and neighboring school districts participate in the program.
A primary objective for the program is to address pervasive issues affecting kids in the community. Some of the most pervasive and signifigant issues as listed below are:
- Income, racial and structural inequality
- Systemic exclusion from arts programming in underserved communities
- Rising childhood obesity rates
- Implicit bias
- Reduction or elimination of public school budgets for arts-and-education and physical education programs
- Lack of preventive health and supportive services with a high amount of punitive and suppressive services
- Neighborhoods lacking city services, programs, and poor or unsafely built environments
- Lower parent engagement rates due to structural inequality and cultural barriers
Lynwood Unified Conga Kids Semi-Final Competition
While the program is sponsored by UCLA and LA City Arts Commission, it still greatly relies on public support. Contact Office: (323) | 935-0823 5858 Wilshire Blvd., Suite. 301 | Los Angeles, CA 90036 to donate and for more information.