DREAMS uses ballet movements to teach students skills of dedication, responsibility, ability, memory and self-confidence to help them in their academics and in life. Our program introduces students to ballet technique and modern dance movements using a variety of music and props. During this 31-week program, Ballet Quad Cities Assistant Program Director Margaret King and professional dancers worked with selected students for an hour after school one day a week.

In its first year, the DREAMS program has seen success. First, DREAMS students come to school! 75% have perfect attendance; the rest missed less than 3 days. Second, teachers report better self-control, manners, and respect for themselves and others among DREAMS Team members. Dance improves discipline as negative behaviors and actions result in negative outcomes for everyone both during practice and performances. Dance allows students to physically express themselves with positive exploration, practice visual learning, and encourage their fellow DREAMS dancers through positive reinforcement. All of these improve discipline and self-control. Third, team building exercises discourage bullying. DREAMS instructors direct children to constructively handle negative situations which improves their communication skills, teaches them to work as a part of a team, and increases their sense of trust and cooperation. Many DREAMS Team members have made new friends as a result. Finally, it channels a child’s boundless energy. Dance classes teach movement and how to sit or stand still while they wait for their turn, sometimes the hardest thing for kids to practice. As a highly physical activity, dance improves a child’s health and well-being.  Children can work off their energy during dance class and learn how to appropriately channel it in the classroom.

No one says it better than this student who wrote the following letter to Margaret King, Assistant Program Director: “Thank you, Miss Maggie for teaching me a lot so far. I LOVE the African dance we are doing, it is beautiful and fun. I’m sorry if I have been disruptive. I will work on that. Sincerely, N.”

DREAMS students have already begun to ask if they can continue with this program next year. One student dramatically told us that he “would have a heart attack” without the DREAMS program in his life. While a bit melodramatic, truthfully, he enjoys kickboxing but had to stop those lessons because of shootings in his neighborhood. He also likes that he can take a few hours to himself before he has to go home to his nieces and nephews.

The summer DREAMS team performed for their peers at Rock Island Academy on July 9, 1015. Watch the video!