LORAIN, Ohio — Students in Lorain are back in the classroom and getting another chance to build self-confidence by adding a little shake, shimmy and slide to the school day.
The pandemic may have sidelined Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio, but the program is now pivoting to keep connecting youth to their community.
A little C&C Music Factory added some brightness on an otherwise gloomy winter morning at Toni Morrison Elementary School in Lorain.
"We are so thrilled to be back in the classroom," said Jojo Carcioppolo with Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio.
Behind the much-needed brain break is a mission to strengthen social and emotional skills in children while boosting their self-esteem through dance.
"We happen to use ballroom dancing because it requires two individuals," said Carcioppolo.
The non-profit Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio, now in its 14th year, promotes pride, confidence and respect as students constantly rotate dance partners.
"We see students who are unsure of themselves, who are resistant to participate," said Carcioppolo.
In the process, Carcioppolo said they not only learn more about themselves, but also their peers.
"It really results in new partnerships and new relationships being established so that we can cultivate that community that's within each classroom," said Carcioppolo.
Students are still making a connection with each other through jump ropes.
"They can maintain their own plastic, fully sanitized handles but then still have the opportunity to change partners, so they have that experience of working with everyone in their class," said Carcioppolo.
So far, more than 20,000 children across Northeast Ohio have busted a move.
"It's so great to be in person and see joy on students' faces," said Carcioppolo.
Over the course of the 10-week program, students gain more confidence and it strengthens the community they call home.
"We're not trying to create ballroom dancers, but it does show that you can step out of your comfort zone and try new things. This is giving students an opportunity to create connections with their classmates," said Carcioppolo.