Two local organizations are partnering together in a goal to prevent substance abuse among students by offering good, clean fun.

Livingston County Community Alliance, an anti-drug coalition, recently awarded a $500 mini-grant to The Dance Project. The grant allowed the program to hold an annual formal dance in March at the Oak Pointe Country Club in Brighton.

But The Dance Project is more than just a formal dance at a nice location. The program was started about 10 years ago by president Jamie Nicholson. Amy Simon, administrative assistant with The Dance Project, says Nicholson wanted to change the dancing culture among students.

Upon attending her own child’s school dance, Nicholson was shocked at what she believed was inappropriate dancing, including so-called "grinding" that occurred. In addition to immodest dancing, Nicholson saw drug and alcohol use at the school dances and wanted to provide a safe and regulated environment. Nicholson felt chaperoning school dances wasn’t enough, and that an alternative should be offered. Her mission aligned with the LCCA’s and the organization provided the grant to help further the project’s social, substance-free dancing opportunities.

Simon says The Dance Project couldn’t have held their Royal Dance without the grant help from the LCCA and looks forward to future partnering possibilities. The Dance Project teaches swing dance and promotes a clean style of dance among students in grades K-12. Along with teaching modest dress, dance, and how to interact respectfully with a dance partner, the program fosters peer support, mentors, and leadership.

Brothers Steven and Josh Hammerle are group members and both expressed how much they enjoy dancing to clean music with a welcoming crowd. The club takes part in a number of community events, including festivals and parades throughout the year. More information about The Dance Project can be found at the link below. (DK)