Achieving 20 years of After-School Capoeira at PS 11

For nearly two decades, Afro Brazil Arts has run a weekly 1.5 hour after-school class for kids in grades K-5.  PS 11 is an elementary school in Chelsea where special education students are placed in the same classes as general education students.Debbie Osborne, the director of the after-school programs at PS 11 praised the capoeira program, and saying that “Capoeira is about self-discipline. We felt that even at the very beginning. Some of our most at-risk kids, kids who had the hardest time focusing and the hardest time paying attention at school, did really well in the program because of the structure and the focus on being responsible and following directions. It’s always been great with kids who need that sort of focus.”

The young people notice the difference in themselves. The focus and respect that Afro Brazil Arts teaches through Capoeira is taken to the classroom. For example, one student of the after school class at PS 11, Eleanor, says that “in school, we can imagine ourselves when we are in Capoeira, so that everyone can listen to the person who is talking.” Xavier, another student, loves capoeira because “Capoeira helps you listen to your teacher.” The kids also apply the lessons learned through capoeira to everyday life. One of Felicity’s favorite things about capoeira class is that she can “work in a team.” Capoeira teaches these lessons to every one of the children at PS 11, no matter their ability or background. They are taught that with focus, discipline, and respect, they can do better in school, and learn to succeed at things they once thought were impossible, like the handstands and cartwheels of capoeira.