Misty Copeland Launches MindLeaps Girls’ Program in Rwanda, Which Uses Dance to Prepare Disadvantaged Youth for School

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American Ballet Theater principal dancer Misty Copeland knows what it’s like to grow up poor and what it feels like to have dance be an escape for the harsh world around you. Recently, she was in Kigali, Rwanda to help MindLeaps, a non-profit that “uses dance as a way to attract street youth into formal education,” launch its first girls program there. She recounts some of her experiences in the vlog above.

MindLeaps seeks to help transition street kids into formal education through dance, which improves their cognitive development and behavioral skills, preparing them for more structured learning. Eventually, the program incorporates English and IT classes to prepare the children for either boarding school, or a workplace environment. Through its International Artists Fund, MindLeaps brings professionals like Copeland in to join the children and raise awareness and support for street children around the world.

In addition to being there to award one top dance student the Misty Copeland Scholarship so that he will be able to attend boarding school, Copeland was also there to help launch MindLeap’s first-ever Girls Program at the MindLeaps center in Kigali. Now, out-of-school girls will have the chance to participate in the dance classes and have a better chance at an education, as well as receive food and basic health care.

The International Artists Fund is currently raising funds for its next scholarships. If you want to check out more information, you can visit them here.

(via Pointe Magazine; Featured Image via Gary Gershoff for Getty Images)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.