Movement, creativity and inclusion. These are the ways that Kulture Break is working to improve the wellbeing of young people in Canberra through their programs.
The Kulture Break story began 17 years ago when a young Ghanian-Australian man, Francis Owusu, discovered how dance and creativity grew his sense of worth, and helped break him out of a cycle of crime and poor self-esteem. Keen to share this discovery with other young people, he began to offer breakdance classes to small school groups to spread the message of empowerment through movement.
From those humble beginnings has grown an organisation whose message has touched more than 400,000 people worldwide, and which supports 8,000 young people across Australia.
At its base in Canberra, Kulture Break conducts after-school dance classes, teen mentoring programs and the Elevate program for passionate singers and dancers. These programs are run with Francis’ motto, “You Don’t Become Somebody, You Are Somebody”, reinforcing a message of self-belief and inclusion amongst the participants.
An enthusiastic participant of Kulture Break is James O’Hehir, who has been a part of Kulture Break for 7 years, and credits Kulture Break with growing himself. As an autistic child, he was withdrawn, silent and the subject of frequent bullying. But that changed when he joined Kulture Break dance classes, where he found an environment supportive of who he was and helped him build his well-being.
He then joined the Man Up mentoring program, finding compassionate guidance and peer support. The positivity and bond of the Man Up Crew was a special help to James when he experienced a serious medical episode.
James’ journey through Kulture Break also led him to discover a love for and talent in singing. He’s now been a part of the Elevate program for passionate performers for three years, working with industry mentors to grow his skills in his craft and his confidence and well-being.
With mental health concerns increasing for Australia’s youth, Kulture Break has intensified their efforts to help teens and children grow their confidence, giving them a chance to express themselves and improve their skills. Through making a collective positive impact on young people, Kulture Break seeks to influence a culture and empower a generation.
Words by Danielle Sweetman
Pictures supplied by Kulture Break