Nonprofit expands free after school programs amid COVID-19 crisis

DMF Youth, a nonprofit organization that provides free after school and summer programming to low-income students and those living in homeless shelters, has pivoted to online programming during COVID-19.

DMF is now bringing virtual dance-fitness and social emotional learning (SEL) lessons to those children.

“In this time of physical distancing and isolation, the students we serve are in need of positive, supportive, relationships that help them navigate uncertainty,” said founder Lindi Duesenberg. “The core topics covered in DMF Youth programming; mindfulness, emotional management, kindness, confidence and teamwork are needed now more than ever and we are committed to keeping our students physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.”

In lieu of in person programming, DMF Youth is posting bi-weekly mini lessons to YouTube. Each lesson is an abbreviated version of their typical three-hour after school session, including a warm-up, a daily dance step, a choreography combo and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) activity referred to as the “awesome human challenge.” These videos are designed with existing DMF Youth students in mind, but can also be used by any parent looking for ways to keep their kids active and engaged while schools remain closed.

DMF Youth is also using Zoom to continue live programming for students. Teaching artists host group conversations and classes so students can chat and learn “face-to-face” several times a week.

“After I dance with DMF Youth, I always feel better,” said DMF Youth third grade student Ta Jae. “I actually feel happy.”

With the support of donors and a gift from BNP Paribas Bank, DMF Youth is also working on a care package project. Nearly 150 kids living in East Harlem, the Lower East Side and the Bronx, will receive customized packages that include:

  • an original “quarantine” journal with exercises and challenges based on topics central to the nonprofit, like finding your superpowers, positive affirmations, failure is learning, gratitude and more
  • an activity kit with arts and craft supplies
  • letters from teachers.

These care packages are intended to help students continue learning, growing, and creating while schools remain closed.

For more information on how DMF Youth is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, contact DMF Youth Executive Director Lindi Duesenberg at lindi@dmfyouth.org or call 714-612-3440. For general information, visit www.dmfyouth.org.

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