Children's Aid/AileyCamp: Dance and the Power of the Self

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New York's Children's Aid Society provides several types of summer camp experiences in and around New York City, providing all-day adventures for children ages 5-14. The activities are designed to emphasize creativity, skill, youth development and social learning - while still remembering that summer is meant to be fun.

One of the more unique opportunities for developing self-confidence and creativity is the Children's Aid/AileyCamp, a singular experience that provides underserved middle school students with the power of expression of dance and art.

Children's Aid/AileyCamp is an innovative six-week summer dance camp that also uses dance as a vehicle for developing a sense of worth and confidence for underserved youth. Creative expression and critical thinking skills are developed: empowerment that carries over to other activities and walks of life. Students begin each day with the AileyCamp Daily Affirmation-"I will not use the word can't to define my possibilities."

Alvin Ailey was a visionary dancer and choreographer who founded the world renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Theater fifty years ago, changing forever the perception of American dance. Today the legacy of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater continues with extraordinary artistry from the current company's dancers and Artistic Director.  Students need no prior dance experience to attend Children's Aid/AileyCamp. Once involved, they experience beauty, spirit, and passion that knows no bounds.

The students develop a strong sense of self and self-expression; within this unique opportunity, teens learn and use dance as a vehicle for developing self-esteem. What a fantastic message to learn as a young person making his/her way in the world!

During the summer of 2007, the highly successful Children's Aid/AileyCamp expanded to a second Children's Aid Society site, on Staten Island. (The original location remains in the Mirabal Sisters Campus community school in Washington Heights.) The camps' final, emotional performances in August stand as strong testimonials to the power of the arts to change lives.