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Forward Momentum Chicago dance program brings joy of movement to kids in underserved communities

Chicago dance program helping underserved kids move forward with joy
Chicago dance program helping underserved kids move forward with joy 02:45

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago man has made it his life's mission to share the joy of dance with children. He brings it to their neighborhoods so they can don't have to go far to experience the joy of movement and all that it teaches.

Pierre Lockett and his friends are jumping, and moving to the beat, and they're loving it.

"We also have fun, and it's like a big family here," said one of the young participants.

Welcome to Forward Momentum Chicago, a group committed to bringing dance to children in communities with limited access to the arts.

"They do ballet, African, Latin, hip hop, and modern dance," said Forward Momentum program manager Bradlee Lathon.

Forward Momentum brings its magic to dance camps and Chicago Public Schools, including Henderson Elementary in Englewood.

Founder and executive director Pierre Lockett was a professional dancer for 20 years, including stints at the Dance Theatre of Harlem and Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, where he was director of outreach.

"I loved what I was doing, but I kind of felt that there was more that I wanted to do. I wanted to go deeper into the community. I really wanted to bring dance to where children were," Lockett said.

"While the kid might want to participate in the program, if they don't have transportation to get down, they can't do it," Lockett added. "That's why having the program here in Englewood, having the program in Avondale, going into the schools that we're working with to bring programming to them was important to me."

But the education here goes way beyond dance.

"Our programs are really designed to help children develop skills, using dance as a tool," Lockett said. "In school, out of school, career, college readiness; because a lot of the things that our programs really focus on are leadership, team building, creativity."

Forward Momentum also helps kids build confidence.

"The fear starts to go away when you're confident in your steps, when you have instructors that are inspiring you behind the scenes. It really gives you a new confidence. It brings a new light to you," Lathon said.

"It makes me feel happy and excited to dance," one girl said.

Some kids we talked have been in the program for years and say it means the world to them.

"It helps me with my leadership now, so when I get older it helps me with my sportsmanship," Latrice Johnson said. "You get to meet new friends, new people, people that you can just connect with."

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