Empowering Kids Through Ballet at the San Francisco Kroc Center

Jul 16, 2018 | by Kathy Lovin

Xiomara and Valeria love to dance. At The Salvation Army’s Kroc Corps and Community Center in San Francisco, the girls have been able to express their love of movement and enhance their education at the same time. The Kroc Center’s after school program provides resources to children who want to learn ballet but do not have access to an instructor or materials required. With the help of San Francisco’s City Ballet School, The Salvation Army is able to provide these classes and more for free to children like Xiomara and Valeria.

Allie (ballet teacher)
“There are a lot of really positive benefits from a dance class like this. It's exposing them to movement as an art form. They also have this wonderful excuse to let out a lot of energy.”

Sonja (education manager)
“Our students just really love it. They ask every day if it's about time for ballet. They love being a part of the dance class. They love miss Allie. It's just a very beautiful experience that they get to have every week.”

Xiomara (ballet student)
“My name is Xiomara. My favorite colors is aqua and I like dancing because it's like painting, but you’re moving your muscles.”

Valeria (ballet student)
“My name is Valeria and I like ballet because when I was little, I used to see my sister dance in her room. Then I'm like, ‘can you teach me how to dance?’ and she said, ‘sure.’ If you are like a lover of dancing, you want to learn more.”

Katherine (marketing director)
“It's completely free, all the way down to the shoes and the leotards. City Ballet has been gracious enough to provide thechildren with leotards and ballet shoes, something that our families can't afford.”

Sonja
“It’s important to be able to offer services like the ballet class at the Kroc Center because otherwise it wouldn't be available to our kids.”

[Off camera] Do you want ballet to be part of your future?

Xiomara
“Half and half. Half ballet, half musician. Now, mix the futures together and I’ll be an actress.”

Valeria
“Ballet is gonna be a part of my future because I want to perform in the Nutcracker because Christmas is my favorite holiday.”

Sonja
“I've been working with Valeria and Xiomara since they were in the first grade. Watching them grow in the after-school program, not only academically but also to grow socially and emotionally, to see them really carry themselves with self-confidence and pride has been beautiful.”

Katherine
“Our program is homework first. We feel that we need to be homework first because a lot of our students are two grades behind when they come to us and our hope is that by the end of the year they're on par with the other students in their class.

And from then, go to electives. Electives include science experiments, mixed media arts, poetry slam, piano classes, strengths program and ballet.”

Allie
“Some of them have some really challenging situations at home. My hope is that they can come here and have a safe space to be free in their bodies and let some of that stuff go.”

Katherine
“The tenderloin is known for prostitution, for drugs, mental illness. So we're amongst the hub for a lot of crime as well.”

Sonja
“What the Kroc Center provides is a really safe place for kids to be kids after school. We just daily act as a shield for our students.

My motivation with the after-school program is to really love students with the love of God. we may not be presenting the gospel day in and day out but it’s a bridge. It's a way to build trust and all the staff can love a student whether they have the same faith that the Salvation Army holds.

I've seen our students really thrive in the stability of what our program offers. We have consistent expectations for the students and it really helps students who have experienced trauma or who have had difficult life circumstances thrive as a child.

It's meeting our students felt needs. It's building confidence. It's life changing. It's transformational and it provides the perfect foundation to share the love of God and to cultivate a relationship with Christ.”

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