This pro choreographer is most proud of his work with one surprisingly amateur crew.

Dance provides an outlet that can help kids cope with emotional, social, and behavioral problems.

Cedric Gardner has been on TV, in movies, and on stage with some of the most famous names in music.

But that’s not what he’s most proud of.

Nor is it the 33-year-old dancer's stint on "So You Think You Can Dance," his tour with Miranda Cosgrove, or his choreographed commercial that aired during the Super Bowl that he feels most excited about.


His crowning achievement is a music video he created with his students about how music has the power to lift us up and take us to places that once felt impossible.

All images via Old Navy.

In Milwaukee, Gardner uses his artistic talent to help at-risk kids learn to connect with and express their emotions in a productive and empowering way.

Through dance, they communicate a powerful message about learning and leadership.

Gardner joins other educators from across the country who partnered with Old Navy's cause platform ONward! to create an album of songs that encourage kids to let their unique selves shine through.

Gardner and his students had the opportunity to make a music video about the power that education holds to help young people advance in life, knock down obstacles, and change the status quo by being a leader who changes the world. Watch:

He's empowering students through music and dance with his new song #ONward. It's hard to stop watching this one!

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, July 31, 2017

Since Gardner began mentoring kids in dance in 2013, colleagues have noticed that his students have better focus, more self-control, and increased self-confidence .

These are attributes that empower them to engage with the educational opportunities that they need in order to succeed as adults.

Gardner's students are all part of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, where Gardner is just one of many mentors who provide positive role models and productive activities for kids in order to help them thrive.

Research shows that dance can actually be a form of therapy, one that has a deeply profound impact on a child's developing mind.

For Gardner's students, dance provides an outlet for self-expression and improves self-image, which helps them better prepare to cope with emotional, social, and behavioral problems.

Even for kids with relatively unproblematic backgrounds, the art of movement set to music can be a useful tool to build skills like discipline, healthy self-expression, and confidence.

Gardner's work is a great reminder of how important the arts are in helping kids achieve academic success.

Teachers who are also mentors help give kids a better shot at a better life.

Learners, like Gardner says, become leaders — and leaders change the world.

Corrections 8/11/2017: Gardner toured with Miranda Cosgrove, not Avril Lavigne. His age has also been corrected.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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