Recreating icons: Dream Catchers Academy dress up as inspiring black women to raise funds for their school
By Lindelwa Masuku
Empowering young girls through dance and creativity, Dream Catchers Academy in Lagos is breaking barriers to provide free education for those who need it most.
Dream Catchers Academy, a non-profit organization founded by Seyi Oluyole, is dedicated to providing young girls in the slums and ghettos of Lagos, Nigeria with free education and creative opportunities.
In partnership with Emmy-nominated filmmaker and activist Kiki Mordi, the girls of Dream Catchers Academy recently recreated photos of iconic Black women to raise money for their school and highlight the importance of education for young women.
Dream Catchers Academy, a non-profit founded by Seyi Oluyole, is using dance and creativity to transform the lives of young girls living in the slums and ghettos of Lagos, Nigeria, who have experienced abuse, neglect, or economic hardship resulting in a lack of educational attainment.
The academy has been providing girls with free education and opportunities for more than seven years. Dream Catchers Academy started with only three volunteers, and now it has about 40 full-time and part-time staff and volunteers.
To raise money for the school and capture the essence and impact of iconic Black women on future generations, Dream Catchers Academy partnered with Emmy-nominated filmmaker and activist Kiki Mordi through her media platform focused on women's representation and empowerment, Document Women.
Mordi and the girls from Dream Catchers Academy recreated photos of iconic Black women from different walks of life. The women included former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, American poet and activist Maya Angelou, and legendary African-American tennis player Althea Gibson.
In an interview, Mordi stated that all these women had a considerable impact on their society. She also explained why she decided to work with the girls from Dream Catchers Academy for the project, saying that the girls were the perfect embodiment for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Oluyole found the girls on the streets and empowered them with dancing, and as their name suggests, they are chasing dreams.
Oluyole revealed that her drive for Dream Catchers Academy came from her desire to provide opportunities for young girls that she wished were available for her when she was younger.
She realized how much of a difference it would have made if she had access to those opportunities.
Dream Catchers Academy is more than just teaching dance; it also provides education and housing for the girls.
Oluyole said that one of her proudest moments was when Rihanna reposted one of their videos in 2018. She also highlighted some of the academy's achievements, such as the international recognition it received in 2018 and 2019, Beyoncé reposting their video in 2020, and the girls traveling to London to perform. However, Oluyole's most beautiful accomplishment was seeing the academy's students get a chance at a better life.
Speaking about the project, Oluyole said, "It was a powerful and humbling experience to see the girls become these iconic women and understand what they represent." Mordi also commented, "I'm excited to see how it's going to inspire the next generation of girls and women to become whatever they want to become."
In a world where millions of children are still being sidelined from getting an education, Dream Catchers Academy and its partners are making a difference in the lives of young girls in Lagos.
The academy is empowering girls and giving them access to opportunities that they otherwise would not have. Through creativity and dance, Dream Catchers Academy is changing the narrative and providing hope for a better future.