Everybody Dance Now!
A teenager from Gainesville is bringing the joy of dancing to kids in Alachua County.
When 16 year old Sonja Samant isn't busy maintaining a 4.9 GPA, she's running the Gainesville chapter of national organization "Everybody Dance Now!"
Sonja is a Senior at Eastside High School and a long time dancer with a passion for volunteerism. She approached the national director of Everybody Dance Now, or EDN, last summer in hopes of bringing dance to under-served young people in our area.
Samant said, "Just to be around all these girls who are so inspired by what you do is phenomenal." Nearly every afternoon you'll find Sonja Samant somewhere in Gainesville, teaching hip-hop to girls who might otherwise not have the opportunity.
11 year old Aalayah Stark said, "It's fun when she comes here...we get to do our own style, add a little swag to it and it's the bomb."
10 year old Leilani Jackson said, "I think it's great that she spends her own time coming here and helping us do dance stuff." Sonja has been dancing since childhood and was training to be a prima ballerina. But after dislocating her knee a year ago, her dream changed.
Samant said, "That I'm able to do something for them, you know with something I love so much definitely has changed my life. And you know I can honestly say I almost love this more than training to become a ballerina."
Sonja kicked off the program at three Gainesville locations in August. She said, "I'm teaching at this Boys & Girls Club (Southeast), PACE and currently Duvall Elementary. And I recently met with the Alachua County After School Program director and she has 30 sites lined up for me."
Sonja is trying to find more teachers and new ways to expand EDN. Although the process is time consuming, Sonja says when she sees how weekly dance classes make a difference in the lives of the girls she teaches, it's all worth it.
She said, "That experience and that you know, opportunity to change one person's life is astronomical. There's no other feeling like it."
Sonja has a new dream now: to show young people through dance that one person really can make a difference.
For more information visit http://www.everybodydancenow.org/