Dancing Through Life

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How does ballroom dancing translate into self-confidence? Reaching Higher student Noah Browning knows the answer. Your support of Highfields’ Reaching Higher program helps teach kids like Noah how to become confident, successful adults.

   Thirteen year-old Noah Browning has a long list of passions. He enjoys computer games, acting, dancing, playing basketball, and much more. Noah hasn’t always been so enthusiastic about life, however. He remembers a time before he transferred to Da Vinci Primary School when he wasn’t so optimistic.

   “My life was pretty rough before I transferred,” said Noah. “At my old school, the classes were bigger and there were more people around. I have anxiety and the more people I’m around, the more it affects me and I act out.”

   Noah suffers with behavioral challenges. He is diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and becomes overwhelmed by unfamiliar situations. This creates issues and causes him to act out.

   “I was getting into trouble and constantly talking back to my teacher because I was so unhappy,” said Noah. “The school was too big for me. It wasn’t a good fit, and my anxiety was bothering me.”

   His mother understood Noah’s feelings and transferred him to Da Vinci Primary School in first grade. That’s when she found out about Highfields’ Reaching Higher program. She thought it would be a great outlet for Noah.

Noah quote1   “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up,” said Noah. “But after joining, my life has gotten better every year since.”

   Reaching Higher is Highfields’ afterschool program which helps at-risk students improve their social skills, develop new interests and earn better grades in school. In Noah’s case, he has come so far from the shy, anxious child that he was in the past. His teachers have noticed him maturing over the past year.

   “Thanks to Reaching Higher, I don’t have such bad anxiety anymore,” said Noah. “At first I was a really shy kid, but now I’m much more confident.”

   Noah was even confident enough to suggest a new activity for his class: ballroom dancing lessons.

   “Ballroom dancing was my idea,” Noah said proudly. “I thought it would be a great activity for Reaching Higher because dancing teaches you social skills and teamwork. It helps kids to be more outgoing and to want to try new things.”

   For four weeks, an instructor from Jackson School of the Arts has come to Noah’s Reaching Higher class to teach the students dances such as the waltz. Noah loves being able to share his ideas with the group and is always thinking of creative activities to do. He is passionate about so many things, and is excited to see what the future has in store for him.

   “Reaching Higher will help me achieve my goals,” said Noah. “I’m learning to be more outgoing, and my anxiety is under control. It’s been a really great experience.”

Reaching Higher is available in seven schools in the state of Michigan. Thanks to your support of Highfields, we can provide safe afterschool activities for at-risk youth.

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