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Dancing for Charity

Each year, thousands of children in Belize are denied a basic education because they lack the resources and financial means.

The average family in Belize survives on $375 a year. However, the books and uniforms required for a single child to attend high school average $200 a year.

Drake is teaming up with the James Arthur Albert Foundation to host the Belize Dance Marathon this Saturday. The goal is to raise $50,000 to support education for the children of Belize. The marathon will last from noon until midnight and will include live bands, DJs, prizes and entertainment.

Belize is the smallest country in its region and has a population of only 320,000 people. Previously known as British Honduras, Belize has grown into its own independent and democratic country. However, it is still considered a developing country. Of its six districts, the Toledo area is the poorest.

Grade school children are forced to teach themselves by reading any books they can find. If they are lucky enough to attend school, many of them must travel by canoe. It is not uncommon for high school kids to attend class until 9 p.m.

“I’m excited to be a part of this,” first-year Maggie Sandquist said. “I love to dance and I’ll be having fun while making a difference. These kids deserve to get an  education and have opportunities.”

All participants and volunteers are required to register prior to the event. Participants  raise a minimum of $200 in pledges, the equivalent of the amount a child pays to attend high school in Belize for a year.

“It seems like a lot of money, and it is,” first-year Rachel Oberheide said. “But JAAF is committed to helping everyone reach their goal. There’s a link on its website for people to donate to dancers, and they provide us with contact information for people who have donated in the past.”

The JAAF will use the money raised to send grade-school and high-school children to school in the Toledo district. It works to provide scholarships, build and improve learning facilities, donate books and supplies and advocate for women’s education.

To register for the Belize Dance Marathon or to find out more about the JAAF and the children of Belize, visit www.helpingbelizekids.org.

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