Changing Lives in Our Community Through Dance
Universal Initiatives mission is to create positive, safe, and healthy spaces in our community where children can convene to grow. By creating access to and combating the unaffordability of selected sports, we are able to provide an outlet for self-expression for children and young adults who elsewise would be excluded from participating in these sports without our direct assistance.
In 2020, Universal Initiatives strengthened its effort through DSS (DanceSport Studios LLC) “The Art of DanceSport” program to create a sports ecosystem that takes into account the stresses of poverty, financial exclusion, rising unemployment due to the pandemic, housing insecurity, and the opioid epidemic. By being mindful of these very real challenges in our community, we help individuals and families overcome the demons they are facing and offer athletic and wellness outlet programs that provide opportunities for children from all walks of life and diverse households the unique opportunity to participate in sports and build healthy behavior patterns that last a lifetime. We give parents peace of mind by providing a healthy, educational, and social benefits space for their children to participate in organized sports, while advancing their education, financial habits, and nutritional wellness. Our collaborative Dance programs encourage positive youth development and create safe places within the community that are easily accessible for children of all abilities and incomes. In Southern New Jersey, we bring together over 200 children in Burlington County, New Jersey, to provide children of all races, genders, incomes, and abilities, the opportunity to stay healthy, play sports, and gain valuable lifelong lessons through our Create Yourself Through Dance program.
In scaling our existing program, we partner with community stakeholders, school district officials, local government, nonprofit organizations, small business and community leaders from fields of health, violence prevention, and education, and work together to create these opportunities for our children. In growing our program, we seek to develop new lifelong relationships with community partners and bankers to increase our capacity and invite new children into our program so they can access the same support and wellness as other children in our community.
The impact outcomes of our program include:
- Reduced racial tensions;
- Improved gender equality;
- Improved nutritional wellness and access to healthy food;
- Reduced neighborhood obesity, chronic illness related to lack of nutritional resources;
- Reduce neighborhood tensions by providing a safe and healthy community space for LMI residents;
- Combat the opioid epidemic by promoting a clean sport program;
- Increase healthy self-perception, character development, and confidence for very low-income students;
- Reduce bullying in our community;
- Enhance competitive athletic participation.