Henrico Teen Teaches Foster Kids Self-Expression Through Dance

October 19, 2016

A passion for dance brought Justin Holloway and six UMFS foster kids together for a week of hip hop and ballet at a Henrico dance studio over the summer. Justin, a rising senior at Henrico High School’s Center for the Arts, applied for a grant through the Youth Philanthropy Project of The Community Foundation to make a summer dance camp happen. The grant awarded Justin and UMFS $1,850 to pay for Justin’s teaching assistants, costumes, shoes and other supplies, the studio space at Central Virginia Dance Academy and fees for Justin to attend a conference to hone his dance instructional skills. Justin attended the Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive in San Francisco for Contemporary Ballet in 2015. As soon as he returned, he hosted the first dance camp for 13 Richmond-area foster kids.

“I wanted to give these kids a chance,” says Justin. “A chance to find out who they are and what they like… and hopefully give them an outlet to express themselves through hip-hop dancing.”

Kids in foster care often miss out on the chance to participate in extracurricular activities because of circumstances beyond their control, including where they live and where they go to school. The intensive, week-long camp gave them a chance to learn how to creatively express themselves through dance.

“The camp was better than I could have imagined,” explains Tory Everson, UMFS community based services supervisor. “These kids come from tremendous trauma, abuse and neglect….to see them actually try new things…it shows them and gives them hope for what they can actually do despite their background.”

The dance camp is the first step toward turning his lifelong passion into a career. After graduating, he hopes to study dance and kinesiology in college with the goal of becoming a dance therapist.