On the Manatee Elementary School stage professional dancers were skipping, bebopping and grooving to the music and it’s all about dance keeping the students safe.
For Olivia Stief, life has come full circle. Dance was her inspiration growing up and now she gets to pass that gift of shoe pounding fun onto a new generation in the very community she grew up in.
“They show so much energy and excitement it’s really cool to see it,” said Stief.
Twenty-five Manatee Elementary 5th graders will soon take part in the new DEA after school Youth Dance Program.
“After school is probably when the youth and children are most vulnerable,” said Joanna Tides of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tides said Manatee was one of the counties chosen for this program because of its history when it comes to the opioid crisis.
“Instead of just coming up here and preaching about the dangers of drugs and just talking about what a drug is and how bad it is for you, this is probably a healthier, better way to get the message out there because we need to reach kids with what they like,” said Tides.
You can tell by some of their moves and smiles, these students love to get down.
“They get to be themselves, just break free and do their thing,” said Stief. “It’s cool that we can make a difference to try and keep them out of anything bad.”
The program will take place once a week for the next 20 weeks. It will also soon include Blackburn and Oneco Elementary schools.