When she was in the ninth grade, Gulliver Prep junior Meaghan Sylver started TapKidz with her best friend Meagan Adler. This year, they expanded the scope of the organization and created a website www.tapkidz.org.
Sylver says they started TapKidz to give back to the community and because schools were cutting extracurricular programs like dance. Along the way, they found joy in teaching children how to dance.
“We provide a program where kids can still have the dance program if they want it,” she says. “It’s a healthy way to exercise. It teaches kids to be active, but to have fun at the same time.”
Sylver and Adler go to the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA every Wednesday to teach classes. They teach anywhere from 10 to 20 children at the YMCA and 15-20 at the Boys and Girls Club. Sylver says she loves teaching the children.
“You get to learn something about yourself when you teach the kids,” she says. “You learn to handle more responsibility; if anything happens, these kids are your responsibility. You have to learn how to be strict and controlling so they respect you, but they still like you. It’s really nice to see the kids when they get so excited about something that you’re providing them.”
Last year, the girls began collecting old dance wear and dance shoes to donate to the children who take the dance classes. Since then the effort has expanded and they are now donating to dance programs in need.
“You can donate anything related to dance, like leotards, anything from shoes to costumes,” Sylver says.
They recently donated dance costumes to the Mays Conservatory, a new dance magnet in south Miami-Dade.
“We donated about 50 costumes to the Mays program and we were lucky enough to get 15 of the same costume from one of our donor schools. That means that Mays has enough costumes to outfit an entire routine,” Sylver says.
TapKidz also donated 50 costumes to the Miami Edison Senior High dance program. At least one of the donations is enough to provide costumes for an entire class or routine.
To raise money to be donated to local and national dance organizations for scholarship programs and community outreach, Sylver and Adler participated in the Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church holiday bazaar. They sold bottle caps and scrabble tile necklaces they made, along with other stocking stuffers.
While Sylver spends a lot of her free time on TapKidz, she is also involved with other organizations at Gulliver. She’s a member of Health Interested Students (HISA). The club raises money for diabetes. One of the early fundraisers this year was at the Fresh Market where club members collected change from customers. They also sold hot dogs, hamburgers and root beer floats.
Sylver also is a member of the National Honor Society and the Scuba Club.
“We try to get a dive in every month,” Sylver says. “We work with coral restoration. The environment is not supporting coral. We help put the coral back into place to give the organisms the space they need to live.”
Club members also participate in reef clean ups.
“Since my dad does it too, it’s a nice way to spend family time,” she says.
Sylver still dances three days a week at Artistic Soul Studio. Through the studio she dances competitively several times a year.
“Competitions are my favorite thing,” Sylver says. “I just get this vibe.”
It probably helps that the studio usually wins the competitions.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld