Studies show that these activities have an even greater impact on the lives of economically disadvantaged children. Making team sports and performing arts accessible to at-risk youth led to improved over-all academic performance, lower drop- out rates, and decreased occurrence of emotional and behavioral problems. Unfortunately, the children who need these programs the most are the ones least likely to get them.
Mano Amiga Academy has partnered with the founders of Futbol Funatics and Dance Basics to help give poor but deserving students an opportunity to pursue their interest in arts and sports.
Futbol Funatics’ (http://www.futbolfunatics.com/) first encounter with Mano Amiga students was a year ago when the group decided to hold a one-day outreach camp in the school. Founder and Head Coach Candice Grey-del Rosario remembers vividly how the students had zero knowledge about football at that time, “Most of them did not know any other sport apart from basketball. At first, all they wanted to do was dribble the ball using their hands. After a few exercises, the students fell in love with the sport and tried their best to apply defense tactics and score goals.”
Coach Candice and her co-founder Coach Avery del Rosario felt that playing football would teach Mano Amiga students valuable lessons that would help them reach their future endeavors. They decided to offer free, regular classes in the school to broaden the students’ exposure to football. Every Friday, Futbol Funatics takes over the PE classes and holds different fun drills to introduce the students to the fundamentals of the game.
“It never ceases to move me whenever I see them get so excited in class. We are committed to providing these children with an enriching experience that would impact their lives in the same way football did for us,” Coach Candice shared.
Dance Basics (http://dancebasics.wordpress.com/) was founded in 2004 by ballerina sisters Nesa Tanyag and Trina Tanyag-Zafra. What was originally a school with only one class grew fast into a school offering four levels. The two sisters approached Mano Amiga because they wanted to extend their love for dancing to underprivileged children.
“We have always wanted to make ballet more accessible to children who cannot afford to pay the high cost of training,” Teacher Nesa said. “We chose the Mano Amiga community because we saw how eager the children are about learning new things as well as the parents’ desire to give their family a better life.
Dance Basics now holds free ballet lessons in Mano Amiga on Saturday mornings. There are 40 students enrolled in the class. The most promising students will be awarded with dance scholarships for a more intensive training.
Other students of Dance Basics have also been helping out by serving as teachers’ assistants. Some of the students also donated their old (but not worn out) ballet shoes, tights, and leotards so the Mano Amiga students could have the proper attire.
“Our company has been so blessed and we are thankful for the opportunity to share those blessings with the Mano Amiga students.,” Coach Nessa said. “We believe that Ballet will be a good learning experience for the children, and hopefully, pave the way for educational and career opportunities in the future,” Ms. Tanyag added.
The Mano Amiga parents have expressed their gratitude to the school and the two organizations for offering football and ballet classes in Mano Amiga because they know these are opportunities their children would not normally have access to due to financial constraints.
“Akala ko po sa panaginip lang posible na makapag-aral ang anak ko ng ballet o kaya football,” Grade 1 parent Marlyn Nieva said. “Talagang malaki po ang pasasalamat namin na nabigyan kami ng ganitong pagkakataon. Nagsisikap kaming bigyan ng mas magandang kinabukasan ang aming mga anak upang hindi masayang ang mga paghihirap ng Mano Amiga at ng lahat nang mga taong tumutulong sa amin.”
(I thought that my child would never have access to ballet or football lessons, except in my dreams. We are all very grateful to have been given this opportunity. We are working hard to give our kids a brighter future because we do not want to waste the efforts of Mano Amiga and the other people helping us.)