RDDC is an international NGO that runs dance and educational programs for street children and underserved youth in post-conflict and developing countries. Using a three-part model, RDDC prepares street children to re-integrate and succeed in the formal education system while gaining valuable job skills through vocational training.
In Phase I, street children improve 11 cognitive skills through a standardized dance curriculum. In Phase II, children acquire job skills through vocational training (IT or English Language). In Phase III, top performing students are sponsored to attend local boarding schools – thereby exiting life on the street and giving youth the power to advance their own lives.
Vision: Improving Children’s Lives
RDDC aims to significantly improve the lives of children and youth in its focus countries (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guinea, Rwanda) by equipping participating youth with a skill or knowledge base that they can leverage in the future. Dance, found at the core of each program, is used to help the children develop cognitive learning skills (ranging from memorization to retention/recall of information). RDDC trains a few of the most talented and committed students to become dancers or teachers directly involved with RDDC programs, but ultimately, serves the vast majority of students through the educational training associated with each program.
RDDC is a 501(c)3 organization based in the United States. Working closely with international partners and RDDC field staff, the organization has run ongoing youth dance projects in three focus countries : Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Guinea. Each program is based on a standardized model created by RDDC and then tailored to the specific needs of the at-risk population being served. Starting in 2014, RDDC prioritized its program in Rwanda.
The present international orientation of RDDC is the company’s second growth phase. The company was created in 2005 with a focus on developing original, full-length contemporary ballets based on famous literary works, significant historical events and modern social issues. Read more...
- Pencils & Poverty
September 10, 2014
By Caitlyn Casson
When preparing for my trip to Rwanda, I decided to bring some small parting gifts with me to give to my students when I left. I wasn’t sure what would be the right gift for adolescent boys who live on the street, but I knew where to go to look for it: my favorite store, FIVE BELOW. One can pretty much find anything that is trendy and considered “cool” by teens around the world at FIVE BELOW. And indeed, I found something…
The organization I worked for in Rwanda, RDDC, is building an IT Classroom alongside the community dance center to help these street children develop their vocational skills in one of the fastest growing industries in Rwanda today: computer science and information technology. As these teens start to learn in a formal setting, they will need the typical “back to school” supplies that we buy every year in the USA.
So, I decided to give these street youth something that would prepare them for their new school challenges and also be “cool”: brightly colored pencils, pencil sharpeners and paper from FIVE BELOW.
The boys’ reaction to this gift had both the shock of receiving a gift and the joy of ownership, something they could call their own. Naturally, their joy brought me joy, but it was not until my return to the USA that I realized the impact of this simple gift.
To most American children a single pencil, even with the addition of a really cool, neon colored sharpener, is a “standard” gift. But, to most of my students in Rwanda who have never held, and maybe never even seen a pencil sharpener before, this simple object symbolized the opportunity to “learn” and be “normal” – no longer an orphan or an outcast living on the street.
I never thought a pencil could suggest an end to poverty.
Caitlyn Casson is an instructor with RDDC and has traveled with the company to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda. She holds a BFA from University of South Florida and now works as a freelance contemporary dancer in New York.