Mount Rainier studio looks for donation dance partners -- Gazette.Net


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The sign outside the Mount Rainier building announces it as Joe’s Movement Emporium, a dance and movement studio, but 10-year-old Satchel Parker considers it something much more important.

“It’s an inside and outside playground,” said Satchel of Bowie.

But recess may not be in session soon, as the Joe’s needs to raise $15,000 in order to be able to restart its after-school care program Club Joe’s in the fall.

The studio needs to raise the funds in order to attain a Recreational Before and After Care license from the Maryland Department of Education’s Office of Child Care, said Brooke Kidd, Joe’s executive and artistic director.

The need for the license came as Club Joe grew from the classes the center used to offer after school. As interest grew, classes became longer and more frequent throughout the week to the point where Club Joe’s was running from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and offering lessons in everything from traditional dance to hula hooping, tumbling and African drumming for boys and girls between the ages of five and 13, said LaTanya Robinson, the center’s art director for the past five years.

Bill Reinhard, a MDE spokesman, declined to comment on the standards in place for after school child care centers as he was unfamiliar with Joe’s specific issues.

Losing the program would be a loss for area families, said Ralph Parker, Satchel’s father.

“It would be a blow for the community at large,” said Parker, who has donated $20 to keep the program running. “It gives a sense of unity, a sense of family.”

Meeting the requirements will require staff retraining as well as improvements to the studio’s facility to meet safety standards, Kidd said.

The money that is raised will go towards more than 100 hours of training in such subjects as first aid, behavior management and early childhood education by about eight of the studio’s staff, Kidd said.

Varying amounts of improvements are needed for the building as well. The center will need changes that vary from replacing some broken light fixtures to installing new doors. A working stairwell that leads into the facility’s lower level where offices and other rooms are will need a vinyl finish, said Nehemiah Dixon an instructor at the emporium.

So far, an online fundraiser for Club Joe’s on the Web site Razoo.com netted half of the needed funds since starting in early May, Kidd said.

“As a performing art center we’re most of the way there,” Kidd said. “We have an assembly permit, which is one of the most difficult to get.”

Kidd is optimistic that the center can raise the money and reopen Club Joe’s in time for when the next school session starts in the fall.

“It’s doable. We need to keep up our fundraising efforts and start some of our construction projects this month,” she said

amccombs@gazette.net