Participation in dance sets kids on a path for success

Participation in dance sets kids on a path for success

December 13, 2023

This article was previously published as an advertorial in the Leader-Post here.

Over the last ten years, Kimberly Parent has had 77 students benefit from Creative Kids funding to take salsa dance lessons at her studio, an opportunity they wouldn’t have had without the generous donors who give to Creative Kids in Saskatchewan.

“The kids that receive funding from Creative Kids are very grateful, humble and dedicated students,” says Parent, the owner of Saskatoon Salsa Dance Company in Saskatoon. “They are aware of how much of an opportunity it is for them.”

In 2013, Parent learned about the charity and registered to become a service provider. She is one of the 540 arts and culture instructors who works with Creative Kids.

She says it gives her chills thinking about how much each of those students benefited from gaining access to dance lessons. “The program changes lives by removing financial barriers so children can pursue their artistic dreams.”

According to Shawn Bauche, program consultant, Creative Kids Saskatchewan, “Removing barriers is one of the main reasons Creative Kids was created. When families cannot afford to put their children in a cultural activity, such as music, dance, theatre and art, their kids lose out on the benefits and positive skills that a creative activity develops.”

Saskatchewan has one of the highest provincial child poverty rates in Canada. As of 2020 — the most recent numbers available — more than 55,000 children have limited access to essential daily needs and opportunities for positive growth and self-esteem.

Parent says, it’s important for children to participate in the arts because of what they gain. Dance in particular has many, well-researched and documented benefits. “One of the biggest benefits is that it develops confidence and self-esteem. Many parents have mentioned to me how their kids have come out of their shells through their dance lessons.”

“Dancing also teaches many skills such as dedication, discipline, perseverance and goal setting, but really importantly, it teaches kids that they have to start somewhere as a beginner, which will benefit them as adults. Another big one is that participating in dance uses different parts of the brain, so it actually makes different neurological connections, it strengthens cognitive development,” she adds.

Sisters, Kori and N’Tanis Wuttunee are two of Parent’s former students that received support from Creative Kids, from 2014 to 2020. As adults now, they realize they learned many valuable skills which contributed to their success in life.

Both sisters overcame their shyness and became confident through their dance experience. They went on to compete and attend workshops internationally, becoming a part of the world-wide salsa community.

“Dancing allowed me to travel. When I travelled to Puerto Rico and Los Angeles, it showed me a different perspective. I learned that there is more out there and to be fearless when chasing my dreams,” says Kori who graduated from the College of Education in 2023 and is now working for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Land Technicians as a public education specialist.

N’Tanis went on to perform more competitively in dance, which resulted in many achievements such as a first-place medal at the Prince Albert Dance Off in 2019. She also won numerous awards and championships through her involvement in her high school pom/cheer team. That same year, she was also nominated by her school for a SaskTel Indigenous Youth Leadership Award and won.

She contributes the values she gained through dance, not only for fueling her passions and dreams of becoming a police officer for the Blood Reserve, but also as key drivers of her dedication and motivation. N’Tanis graduated from the Criminal Justice program at Lethbridge College and is now pursuing her Bachelor of Justice Degree.

“Dance greatly impacted my life. I was able to learn the importance of teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, patience and commitment,” says N’Tanis. “If I had a chance to talk to my younger self, she wouldn’t believe where she is today.”

Parent is thankful for everyone who donates to Creative Kids and encourages interested donors to make a donation during the annual Holiday Campaign. “Because of Creative Kids, we’ve been able to have so many wonderful students and families become apart our community. The benefits and growth those kids received is amazing.”

To donate or get involved click here.

Dance teacher with students

Kimberly Parent is one of the 548 service providers registered with Creative Kids.