At ChezaCheza, we believe that dance and movement is an excellent tool for learning. We create safe learning spaces where children can play, be creative and express themselves through dance. We actively build on creating the best environment where children feel supported and comfortable to express their creativity.
Our movement-based curriculum
ChezaCheza works mainly with children in urban informal settlements. In the challenging environment that children in these settlements grow up, we think about what it takes for children to thrive. Can children learn coping methods and resilience? Are literacy and numeracy skills enough to prepare this next generation for the challenges they will encounter in life? With the program and a culturally appropriate curriculum, ChezaCheza addresses these questions. The curriculum is carefully designed to fit the characteristics and needs of middle childhood (aged 6-9) and early adolescence (aged 10-18). In a ChezaCheza class, children experience the joy of dancing while engaging in experiential learning that develops positive behaviour and essential cognitive, social and emotional skills. The curriculum is built on three progressive modules of life skills education, designed to meet students at their ability level, both physically and social-emotionally. Children participate in free two-hour classes, one time per week, and are taught by highly skilled dance educators. These classes follow a formal structure which incorporates breath work, life skills, physical exercise that stimulate social and emotional learning. Every class ends with a debrief to connect learning and skills with their situation at home and in school. Classes take place on the weekends, when schools are closed; without ChezaCheza, many of the children would otherwise loiter in the streets without appropriate supervision.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
Emotions are valuable signals that help us survive and thrive. When we learn how to use them, emotions support us in making more effective decisions, connect with others, find and follow purpose — and lead a more whole-hearted life. SEL is the process by which children understand and manage their emotions, feel and show empathy, maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. SEL encompasses skills and attitudes that help students to be successful in school and in life. It is also the process by which students and the adults who care for them (including teachers, coaches, counsellors, and parents) develop these same skills and the process. It helps children to adapt and adjust to different circumstances and strengthens their ability to develop solutions in the face of challenges. UNICEF and The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) recommend and active and interactive approach to teaching life skills. ChezaCheza’s specialised dance curriculum is context-driven and uses different educational methodologies alongside dance and movement to transfer essential cognitive, social and emotional skills in an interactive way.
Local role models
We create more safe spaces within communities and schools through our team of highly skilled dance educators. They are ideal facilitators because they come from the same communities as our children and understand their challenges. ChezaCheza teachers commit to our training program which enables them to lead classes in their neighbourhood and schools, become agents for social change, and ultimately transform their communities. That sense of ownership motivates them to drive positive change and ultimately transform their communities. It also ensures that the project is embedded in the community which is key to long term impacts of the project.
Cheza Cheza Dance Foundation | Picture by Katie G. Nelson