It was in 2015 when I first met Leslie Scott, the founder of Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (better known as YPAD).
She had begun to take a powerful stance on the health and safety of dancers, bringing her passion for the topic out into the public beyond her own hip hop classes.
I had already been on a journey of setting best practices inside of my own studio and our More Than Just Great Dancing® affiliated studios. My choices were choices based on my own concerns for the industry and my advocacy for age appropriate costumes and choreography. But Leslie had so much more to share! In addition to the same passions, she was bringing experts and research to the forefront of the discussion. Leslie wasn’t just saying that dancers needed safe and healthy classrooms, she was PROVING it.
You may already know from past posts that Leslie and I formed a friendship back then, as she grew the YPAD organization. We had similar goals, and so it was an easy decision for me to have More Than Just Great Dancing® become YPAD’s first Visionary Sponsor. We were able to help develop YPAD’s website, arrange for photography and videography opportunities for marketing and promotions, provide guidance in public relations, and make connections in the industry, like with Curtain Call Costumes.
It made me MORE than proud to see Leslie growing YPAD’s influence and for MTJGD to play a part in bringing her message to a bigger market.
Soon after MTJGD became the first Visionary Sponsor, Misty’s Dance Unlimited became the first YPAD Certified dance studio … ever! There was no doubt in my mind that many more studios would follow suit and become certified once they could see just how important it was to level up their knowledge of keeping kids safe in the dance classroom.
While MDU always had age-appropriate movement, music, and costuming at the heart of its services, with YPAD we had a real stamp of approval that what we were doing was indeed in line with best practices for teaching children.
During these past four years, Leslie and I have continued to bond over YPAD’s mission, and so when she came to me last year to ask if I wanted MTJGD to take over the organization, it was an easy YES!
There were so many reasons to say yes, not the least of which was because I knew in deep down in my heart and my soul that the work YPAD was doing was so necessary. I also knew that Leslie was ready for YPAD to have a larger level of support, and personally, was ready to invest more time and energy into her family.
The timing for both of us was right.
Now, as we move forward with MTJGD at the helm of YPAD, I’m excited that we’re working on some changes to the program to begin rolling out late this summer. We want to support our current members with updated resources and also make it even easier for more studio owners and teachers to get involved and interact with this mission!
My goal is that YPAD will continue to serve as a key player in the conversations we are having in the dance industry about safety, physical health, and emotional well-being. And that part of our role will be to ensure more studios, studio owners, and teachers have access to the education they need to give their students MORE of the tools needed to become their best selves.
At MTJGD, we are wholly committed to building an even better future of dance for generations to come. With YPAD, we are all-in!
I hope you’ll stay tuned to how YPAD can help YOU be a part of this promise too. We are all in this together. <3