Break Dance Project Uganda is an incredibly cool Kampala-based organization that uses breakdance as a tool for community development. The foundational belief of the organization is that 'everyone can learn and everyone can teach--everyone has the capacity to be a positive role model to others.' Abramz Tekya.
Breakdance is the tool, "it is not [in itself] a practical solution, but it ignites practical solutions,' says K'Naan, who is featured in Bouncing Cats, a documentary (available on itunes) about the project. Breakdance is fun, its therapeutic, it teaches discipline and builds self-esteem as participants develop and hone their skills.
The leadership of BPU is intentional about teaching their values of gratitude, tolerance and respect especially by empowering participants of all ages to express themselves in a public platform. They teach kids to be a voice for themselves and for others, and what is most impressive is how this is all modeled through the leadership- leadership of all ages and socio-economic classes. For example, at the end of each breakdance session, one of the younger participants will encourage people to sign up to share and then proceed to MC a community sharing time-- people sharing personal stories, encouragements, thanksgivings, particular needs and events.
USP's Community Art in Uganda class had the privilege of both hosting and hearing from the project's director, Abramz Tekya, as well as visiting and participating in an evening community session. (Community Sessions are free and open to anyone interested in participating.) We were welcome to the whole evening event just as any member of the community is welcomed. We joined in the dancing, the socializing, the sharing, and the listening.
The evening was a good deal of fun, and a lot of work! Though breaking can be competitive, the corporate energy, encouragement and gratitude is unusual and captivating.
USP students join BPU for an evening Community Session: