The ladies of the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak are helping a group of Ladies on the Rise get in step this summer in Etobicoke.
Marcia Brown – a Toronto District School Board educational assistant and one of last year’s recipients of a Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence – has extended her school-year Ladies on the Rise mentorship program into the summer this year in an effort to keep local girls aged 12 to 17 active and engaged.
Every Monday to Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m., the 52 girls participating in the summer program meet at North Albion Collegiate Institute (NACI) for an afternoon of dance instruction under one of seven rotating Raptors Dance Pak members, followed by mentorship sessions.
“For the first hour-and-a-half the girls are dancing, and the other hour-and-a-half we’re talking about empowerment, body image, and leadership,” said Brown, who also runs a boys program called Men of Distinction during the school year. “I’m also bringing in presenters to speak to them and to mentor them, and then every other Friday we go on a trip.”
On Thursday, Aug. 16 – the last day of the summer program – Brown and her Ladies on the Rise are inviting members of the community out the cafeteria at NACI at 1 p.m. to see the girls perform their dance routine, and support them as they receive their end-of-program awards.
“It’s wonderful – the kids are great and so happy,” Brown said. “I’m trying to empower them again, and we just really want to get the word out how positive this message is for the young girls...we want the community to see how this program is really working and how it’s changing these girls’ lives.”
While Brown said she’d love to open the program to more participants, there’s currently a waiting list with more than 20 girls’ names on it. And with little funding to keep her programs afloat, she recently began the process of registering her own charity, Trust 15, as an umbrella non-profit organization.
For more information, or to donate, email Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.trust15.com