Encore Careers: Purpose & Passion

Encore.org, the nation’s only large-scale investment in people over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good, announced today the winners of the 2012 Purpose Prize along with a list of the 2012 Purpose Prize Fellows. I'm honored to have been named as one of the Fellows for my work as Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Ambassadors, an arts-in-education company that gives underserved children and teens the chance to perform with professional dancers in adaptations of the classics and original ballets.

The image that accompanies this article is of students in the Bronx at Haven Academy. The school was created by New York Foundling, one of New York City’s oldest and largest child welfare agencies, to serve children in foster care and the child welfare system who live in the poorest congressional district in the nation. This photo was taken right before a performance with Ballet Ambassadors last spring of "Swan Lake." Tomorrow the boys and girls will dance in our "Nutcracker."

We also serve middle and high schools with such productions as "Romeo & Juliet," "The Great Gatsby," "Othello," and "Don Quixote." As one ninth grader from the Bronx wrote in a thank you note, “After the show I was so proud of all of us because we actually did something good and the outcome was so great. I will remember this for the rest of my life. I will use this experience to motivate myself in life.”

A release from Encore.org quotes Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of the organization and author of The Big Shift, as saying,“Purpose Prize fellows are using their passion and experience to help solve some of society’s steepest challenges. They represent a growing wave of people in their 60s and beyond who are using their knowhow to change the world, while shifting perceptions of what is possible in this stage of life.” I can attest firsthand to the emotional rewards of finding the time to share my love of dance with deserving youngsters at this stage of my life. After decades of teaching ballet to children whose parents could afford the lessons, I felt compelled to fill a need by giving less affluent youngsters the opportunity to experience the joy and self-esteem that come with participating in the liveliest art's classical dance form. Seeing the excitement on the young people's faces and watching them dance beautifully never fails to remind me why I do what I do. Meet all of the winners of the 2012 Purpose Prize and the Fellows here: http://www.encore.org/prize Sondra Forsyth is Co-Editor-in-Chief of ThirdAge.com.
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