02/22/04 — Health Educator forms dance troup at GHS

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Health Educator forms dance troup at GHS

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 22, 2004 2:03 AM

When Kisha Floyd became a full-time health educator at Goldsboro High School, she did not envision her role would expand into advising a dance troupe.

Amanda Cotton, a senior at the school, approached Ms. Floyd several months ago with the idea of forming a dance team. She was looking for help to get it organized.

"Our whole goal was to have something to do," Amanda said. "I was a cheerleader last year and wanted a way to stay in shape."

She said that having an urban dance troupe keeps the teens off the street and gives them a place to go.

Many students were interested in joining the group, formed in December, but Ms. Floyd said she could only accept 16 members. Ms. Floyd was hired by the Wayne Action Teams for Community Health, or WATCH, to be the health educator at the school. The group, called "Infinity," includes 14 students from Goldsboro High and one each from Southern Wayne and Charles B. Aycock high schools.

The girls practice twice a week, at the school and at Woodcrest Community Center. They have already gained a following since performing recently at a school talent show. The hope is to perform at events in the area and eventually enter competitions.

Ms. Floyd works with the troupe on her own time. The sessions may start with conditioning exercises and a series of dance routines, but quickly spill over into lessons about life.

"Before practices and during drills, everything has a lesson to it," she said. "I'm teaching them how to be leaders and that they have to be followers as well."

She tries to build their self-esteem, to motivate them to do their best and to get them work together as a team. She said that often teens who have nothing to do or feel they have nothing to contribute will get into trouble.

"We can provide them with something to do, a safe place, and put a fire into them," she said.

Being in the school full-time has made Ms. Floyd accessible to students.

"When we're out shopping at Wal-Mart or at the movies, if the kids recognize me and want to talk, we'll talk," she said.

She said she knew the job could entail some sacrifices, but they were ones that she was willing to make.

"I love working with them so much," she said. "This is another example that it's not about me; it's about them."

So far, any obstacles that have arisen have been met with solutions. When transportation for the girls was a problem, fellow health educators Kristal Jones and Denise Walker stepped in to help. Last week, the Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni Association announced it will donate T-shirts for the group to wear.

The girls themselves say they are becoming a more cohesive unit.

"We gave everybody nicknames," said Amanda. "It's like a team."

Sophomore Nicole Mitchell said the girls in the group get along well with one another.

"Everybody here has a different quality that stands out," she said.

She said it has been especially helpful to her because she has always been very shy. She said she joined to build up her self-esteem and confidence.

Amanda plans to attend college next year and study dance choreography. She looks at the troupe as a chance for the girls to shine and hopes it continues in future years.

"It's like my way as a senior of giving something to my friends next year," she said. "I want to leave something for the community."