Outside Looking In
Outside Looking In is a national, community-driven dance program for middle school and high school aged Indigenous youth living in diverse communities. Beginning in 2017, Outside Looking In was created to inspire Indigenous youth to pursue education, engage in self-expression, and celebrate empowerment. The program aims to guide youth on a journey to academic achievement, well-being and prosperous futures.
The Outside Looking In program is run as a credit course so youth can contribute the course towards their Secondary School diploma. Outside Looking In works with the Ministry of Education to develop OLI based courses that meet curriculum expectations. In addition Outside Looking In requires all participating communities, friendship centers, organizations or schools to implement at least one OLI credit course to provide an additional and creative method to support academic success of youth. OLI staff work with the leadership to train staff, plan a credit course, and ensure that the program runs efficiently during the programming year.
For students to participate in the program they must meet program requirements that includes academics, regular school attendance, behaviour, choreography. Each year those youth who are successful in the Outside Looking In program, meeting all the program requirements, are provided with a two week trip to Toronto where get the chance to join other Indigenous youth from across Canada, preparing for an ultimate performance on stage to show off their talents and abilities before thousands, at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts!
OLI understands that there must be a structured and unwavering support and motivation from all partners and key stakeholder groups if youth are to succeed. OLI staff works with community leadership; education staff, teachers and volunteers; and parents and families supporting youth to ensure that they are organized, committed and fully on-board with running the program. Decisions, actions, motivations, and negotiations are centered on what is going to be the best for participating youth.
Below is a description of the Outside Looking In Program Model and how it works.
1. Communities, organizations and friendship centres apply through a written or video application process. If approved, OLI staff begin weekly conference calls with each community partner to plan for program implementation.
2. Outside Looking In launches the program (usually near the beginning of the school year in October) in the community and youth begin dancing. Youth learn about program expectations and requirements (academic, attendance, choreography, behaviour) and about the goal to travel to Toronto to perform with youth from across Canada. OLI staff conduct an orientation for all volunteers involved in the program.
3. Each community has a designated dance instructor who travels to the community to work with the youth 2-3 hours per day for 5 days per week, on a monthly basis, over 6 months. When dance instructors are not in the community participants continue dance practices with the support of volunteers.
4. Over the course of the 6 month program implementation, program managers run weekly scheduled conference calls with volunteers. During monthly visits by the program manager, youth are assessed on academic progress, attendance, choreography, and behaviour.
5. If youth have met all program requirements, they travel to Toronto for 2 weeks where they engage in daily rehearsals to prepare for the annual performances. OLI youth perform at two performances where they are the stars of the show for over 6000 audience members cheering them on.
OLI works solely with Indigenous youth (middle and high school students ages 12 to 18+) in communities, organizations, Friendship Centres, and Public School Boards across Canada
Maureen Hatherley – Program Director, Outside Looking In
Head Office 50 Generations Drive Suite 226, Box 2 Ohsweken, ON N0A 1M