Talk To Me, Involve Me

The Event for dance4life was on Saturday, March 30th! The four steps of the dance4life program were incorporated into The Event: Inspire, educate, activate, and celebrate. All youth who have been a part of the dance4life program were invited to attend which means there will be up to 1,300 students present! We worked tirelessly to make sure The Event was not only educational and engaging, but also a true celebration for the achievements of the youth in the program.

Inspire. A handful of young, Bajan artists agreed to perform at The Event. We had Callum Wright, spoken word artists, freestyle rappers, the Rym Minister, Rupee, Kirk Brown, Mikey, a group of students from local sayluvmusic school, and Cover Drive! Interested in these artists? Stay tuned! In the coming posts you will be able to see their performances when I am able to write about the outcome of The Event! Each individual and group mentioned above essentially served as ambassadors to the dance4life program, incorporating into their performances the youth centered, positive messages that make dance4life innovative and effective while embracing the perspective that young people are the experts on their lives and on youth issues.

Educate. The educational component took the form of a game show. Using the skills4life manual, we adapted some of the core curriculum into an interactive game for youth to participate in. The questions focused on HIV, STI’s, sexual health, and youth empowerment. Students were also able to connect with local organizations at The Event in order to expand their knowledge on youth health issues. Organizations included BPW (The Business & Professional Women’s Club of Barbados), LIVE UP: Love.Protect.Respect. (the Caribbean’s first media-led campaign on HIV/AIDS), and sayluvmusic (a local music school run by Marisa Lindsay for young, socially aware artists in Barbados).

Activate. The pictures you are seeing throughout this post include bits and pieces of the youth pledge that was created by the dance4life Barbados National Youth Council (NYC). The NYC consists of a small group of young people who are current students in the dance4life program here in Barbados. They serve as a sounding board for us, making sure the program stays applicable to the reality of young people’s lives. During the activate stage of the program, youth were encouraged to take what they have learned, and turn it into community action. The NYC put together a youth pledge that has been shared with students across all 8 schools, and even with dance4life students internationally! At The Event the pledge was shared with all of the students. A video compilation of the NYC pledge will be shared with you all in my next post. Here is the pledge for you all to read. Remember, this was created by a group of secondary school students in the dance4life program. The visual display of the pledge was created by local graphic design artist, Tracey Garcia!

Celebrate. That’s The Event! It was a huge celebration! We had other guests including a young man who was just awarded The Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development, we invited school officials to share some of their thoughts on programming, and we worked with youth around sustainable ways they can stay engaged in their communities and in the dance4life initiative. And of course we danced the international dance4life drill, moving in solidarity against one cause – to push back the spread of HIV.

Check out the baobab trees in this photo taken at Codrington College in St. John, Barbados.

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