Dance Theater awarded health grant
Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer
McDonald’s Tri-State Owner/Operators awarded the Dance Theater of Harlem, Inc. with a $5,000 grant to support the organization’s “Healthy Dancers/Healthy Families Initiative,” a 32-week program designed to promote healthy lifestyles, educating minorities about wellness and building community vitality.
The presentation was held on Wed., Oct. 9th at the theater on West 152nd Street.
Harlem Dance Theater is one of six non-profits across the tri-state area selected to receive funds from the McDonald’s New York Metro Nutrition Network, a community outreach initiative that provides funds to local organizations for grassroots nutrition programs.
The program is offered in collaboration with Harlem Seeds, a local non-profit that seeks to help youth make healthy food choices. Harlem Seeds’ members accompany local youths on educational excursions to grocery stores and works with them in community gardens. Also offered are cooking demonstrations, and the Harlem Dance Theater offers classes for parents that only cost a dollar if they bring their children.
The grant from McDonald’s will help bring additional teachers into the program.
“One of the beautiful things we do is bring in experts from the field,” said Endolyn Taylor, the School Director of the Dance Theater of Harlem.
“They’re very committed to it,” said Artistic Director Virginia Johnson. She pointed to changes on the McDonald’s menu that have brought salads to the masses, in addition to its Big Macs.
The nutrition program will help students read labels and make better options.
“It starts with knowing your options,” added Johnson. “We want to create young people who are able to think as dancers as they are out in the world.”
While obesity is one challenge, dancers can suffer from a different kind of disorder: anorexia and bulimia.
The nutrition program will combat that, too, said Johnson.
“There is an idea that you have to be a long, lean dancer, but how can you do that healthfully?”
Nutrition education programs will help people make better choices, said Taylor, and partnering with McDonald’s helped further that goal.
“They’re on every corner. Eventually, you’ll end up in one.”