In Your NeighborhoodGood Neighbors


Youth mentor uses break dancing to help change lives

Posted at 1:46 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 13:57:20-04

LANSING, Mich. — This week's Good Neighbor is using the power of dance to turn the phrase I can't into I can for a lot of kids.

Eight-year-old Lansing resident Emanuel Walker loves to dance, but it hasn’t always been this way.

“I was a lot shyer when I started,” Emanuel says.

Emanuel is enrolled in All of the Above Hip Hop Academy, a non-profit organization made up of artists, educators, and youth mentors like Young Yi. Young says besides being fun, dance also gives kids a chance to learn lessons.

“I'm teaching them what two times three is. For instance, we're going to do two sets of three moves. And you know, I'm teaching them math.”

Young says he started break-dancing at an early age and quickly realized the impact it was having on his life.

“There's a lot of freedom in breaking, I think when it comes to expression. As a student, I felt so overwhelmed with stress. I was studying, preparing for exams, papers, all that stuff while going through the formative years of your life. Breaking was a healthy outlet for me.”

Everyone who is part of All of The Above Hip Hop Academy says breaking is centered around community.

Rashad Muhammad is a board member and says being part of the organization is a blessing.

“This is like a soup. It's like a gumbo. Everyone's contributing. And it's not about how good you are, it's about what you're willing to give. It's about being vulnerable and allowing people to show what they have to give and also receiving it and giving something back.”

Young says one of the best parts is seeing the difference it makes in the lives of kids like Emmanuel.

“When I first met him and he walked in and I said, ‘hey, what's your name?’ He looked at me like he saw ghosts. He was just frozen. Legit, like fear on his face and anxiety. And that was probably like six, seven months ago. Now, when we get new students, he's always the first to go and welcome them.”

Emanuel says he loves attending class.

“Me and my dad, we came to a class just to check it out and I watched. Then, the next week we came back, and I break danced. I enjoyed the class and learning. Oh, and my teacher said that I was a fast learner!”

Young says he loves teaching the kids break-dancing and he gets as much out of it as they do. Rashad says Young is a great neighbor for all he does to give back to the kids.

"He's a selfless guy. And he cares about these kids. He's been doing this for years. He isn’t doing it for financial gain, but just because he loves it, and just because he cares about working with these kids and seeing them develop."

We want to say thank you to Young and all the instructors at the All of The Above Hip Hop Academy. You are this week’s Good Neighbors!

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Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman

9:44 PM, Nov 26, 2018

Good Neighbors Host

Bob Hoffman

Good Neighbors
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