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 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.