More than just dancing
Music, leadership, outreach among program's other focuses
"Reduce, reuse and recycle" never sounded more hip and sexy.
The lyrics, on a CD recorded last year by students with SEAMAAC's Hip Hop Heritage program, are part of a song, "Goin' Green," in which one student rapped in Indonesian and another sang in English about the environment.
Yeah, that's right. A rap song about the environment.
The hip-hop program is fun, but it's not all games.
Besides break-dancing, some students learn how to write and record songs, as demonstrated by the "Hip Hop Heritage: The Album Vol. 1" CD, which includes "Goin' Green." Volume II is expected in the near future.
Students also learn how to create business plans, explore careers, deejay and make short films. And some focus on student leadership. For example, one recent afternoon at the Academy of Palumbo:
* In one room Zhane Smith, 16, a junior at South Philly High, said she and other students were working on a movie titled "Bullying Hurts."
* In another room, Michael Motley, 18, a/k/a "DJ Stylez," a senior at South Philly, was backspinning records on turntables, practicing his deejaying skills with Kevin Ramirez, SEAMAAC's youth-programs director.
* Members of the program's Student Immigrant Leadership Council (SILC), a youth leadership-development initiative, talked about current events they learned that day.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's breakup, one student chimed.
Teachers protesting the state budget cuts.
President Obama's speech on immigration reform.
"We want to teach them leadership skills," said Lanica Angpak, 18, a Community College of Philadelphia student and SEAMAAC intern, who runs the SILC meetings with Nick White, 18, a South Philly High senior, and another SEAMAAC intern. "If there's a problem, they can address it. It's not just up to the adults."
* SILC members also discussed an upcoming talent show and brainstormed charities to which they could give part of the proceeds.
Candy Bloise, a SEAMAAC dance instructor who supervises the SILC meetings, threw out the idea of doing something to help get kids exercising and eating right, noting first lady Michelle Obama's program to fight obesity and Beyonce's "Move Your Body" dance sensation for kids.
Afterward, White said that raising money for charity is important "to show that we have a voice and it's not just mainstream foundations that help people."