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article imageOp-Ed: Brazilian Capoeira seeks to help schools 'Get Empowered!' Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Mar 7, 2017 in Lifestyle
Oakland - This past Sunday concluded the annual mega-celebration of Carnival in Sao Palo, Brazil. As ‘a last indulgence’ before the observance of Lent, Carnival is Brazil’s version of Mardi Gras.
But what many people don’t know is that especially for multi-cultured Brazil, 'Carnival' is celebration of life and music.
A unique organization called ‘Get Empowered!' wants to bring that spirit and energy of celebration to the schools. As annual budgets keep falling short with more set-backs for our nation's schools ‘Get Empowered’ is working to bridge that gap.
Providing his support, Emmy-awarding winning actor/singer Obba Babatundé will be in the San Francisco Bay Area this March 17 to share with local schools and families the transforming power of music, dance and drumming.
'Get Empowered!' utilizes music, dance, culture and art as way to heal, strengthen and inspire youth in today’s complex world. Babatundé is pleased to be part of ‘Get Empowered!’ and its vision. He believes it inspires “collective cooperation and stress reduction in a community setting."
Many of the difficulties for youth in schools today are stress, boredom, angst and conflict. ‘Get Empowered!’ through the interactive experience of dance, drumming and music has found an approach that enhances and fosters the educational experience. Capoeira, is rooted in martial arts with dance and music elements combined. And, this is just one style that the motivational organization uses in its program outreach. Working in conjunction with the non-profit, TahDah Foundation, ‘Get Empowered!’ has raised over $35,000 so far. "And, we are aiming to raise $50 - $100,000 this year," said founder Emi Gittleman, "so we can distribute more funds and resources to additional and wait-list schools, after school programs, community organizations and camps for under-served kids and families.”
With the use of Brazilian Capoeira, kids from ages five to 12 will be able to participate in the one-day, multi-cultural, interactive, educational event.
 Get Empowered!  program utilizes drumming  music and dance to help students be more interactive  co...
'Get Empowered!' program utilizes drumming, music and dance to help students be more interactive, connected to community and to be inspired.
Courtesy of 'Get Empowered!'
Capoeira is Brazil’s fast and graceful Afro-Brazilian art form that blends dance, martial arts and acrobatics. Youngsters will have the chance to play as well as learn Capoeira, an activity that teaches giving and gaining respect, strengthening patience, and increasing physical stamina. East Bay resident Sabiá Pinheiro is a master Capoeira practitioner, dancer and teacher. He will lead the Capoeira activity.
’Get Empowered!’ is all about Diversity, Community, Inclusiveness and Education,” said Gittleman. “The goal is to create a safe space for kids to feel a part of the community and where they can be their best selves.” Gittleman founded the organization ten years ago with the help of Garry Spanner. She currently serves as co-director. “We want to help those kids who are living in the most difficult times and circumstances... We want them to learn, love, grow and be happy.”
 Get Empowered!  programs uses dance and music as a means of helping students to participate more in...
'Get Empowered!' programs uses dance and music as a means of helping students to participate more in interactive activities and build community.
Courtesy of 'Get Empowered!'
The organization focuses on 'The under-served' – kids in schools, after-school programs, homeless shelters, community centers and immigrant/advocacy centers like the YMCA New Americans Welcome Centers. Speaking on behalf of the YMCA of Greater New York, New Americans Welcome Center, Rachael Rinaldo, Program Director had this to say.
"At the YMCA of Greater New York, “Get Empowered!” has collaborated with many programs, including their New Americans Initiative, a program that serves the immigrant/newcomer community in New York City. We are very familiar and work closely with Emi Gittlemen and “Get Empowered!” said Rinaldo. “It was an honor and a privilege to collaborate with 'Get Empowered!' in support of our New Americans Initiative’s Welcoming Week events in NYC and an All-Staff Conference on Ellis Island. Each event and experience was more beautiful, inspiring and uplifting than the next, she said. It was incredibly special to experience and witness first-hand the experience. It was an example of joyful and open-hearted ways every community members, participants and staff members embraced diversity and inclusion, said Rinaldo; as well as the cultural & healing arts, global learning, education and community bridge-building activities.” The YMCA of Greater New York serves over 500,000 youth and adults in 24 branches and 100 off-site locations including a summer camp in Greenkill, New York.
Gittleman noted that, “through a variety of activities, children pre-Kindergarten through high school from a diversity of ethnic and cultural groups are coached to develop self-confidence, mindfulness and healthy outlets for physical wellness and emotional empowerment.”
‘Get Empowered!’ serves SF Bay Area schools with ongoing programs that reflect its core values: Uplifting, Unifying and Empowering people to be their best selves.
She also said that the ‘Get Empowered!’ program operates in San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous community locations in New York City.
Brazilian in style but universal in rhythm  dance-movement and enthusiasm   Get Empowered!  makes us...
Brazilian in style but universal in rhythm, dance-movement and enthusiasm, 'Get Empowered!' makes use of a multi-cultural expression.
Courtesy of 'Get Empowered!'
Two schools in Oakland will be participating in the afternoon programs that are scheduled for March 17. (It is a private event!) Aspire Triumph Technology School and North Oakland Community Charter School will host. "The kids will be performing at the evening event," said Gittleman.
The purpose of this she said is to promote ‘Get Empowered!’ as a vital and inspiring resource, provide visibility to our Oakland schools and help encourage people to donate funds, sponsorship or materials to keep our weekly programs going longer and expands them. We also want to help our other locations such as San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. "Also," Gittleman said, "we want to rally more interest to try to get this program into more schools, after school programs, cultural centers, community centers and family-friendly places.”
Gittleman hopes that by making a buzz, to pique interest ‘Empowered!’ can then make an impact to more and more kids.
Organized as a ‘Fun Family Friday’ for March 17, the three-programs-scheduled for the day’s activities start in the morning, first at the two schools and will conclude at The First Congregational Church of Oakland. The public is invited to attend the evening activity. Doors at the church open at 6:30 and the evening program will start at 7:00, ending at 8:00 p.m. A donation of ten dollars is encouraged. All proceeds collected will go to funding the programs of ‘Get Empowered!’ Kids under age 18, admission is free.
For tickets and more information visit the 'Get Empowered!' web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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