Welcome! We're so glad you're here and we're excited to share the mission of Sonido del Movimiento with you, along with a bit of our history.
Our mission: With Christ, Sonido del Movimiento purposes to use music and dance with children in the Americas, especially Central America, to provide tools of resiliency, an ability for expression, and community building.
Sonido del Movimiento ("SDM"), or "the Sound of Movement," is a nonprofit headquartered in United States that currently works in Guatemala using music and dance to address the effects of poverty and crime on children living in at-risk areas.
A big focus of our work here at SDM is resiliency. Resiliency refers to the ability of a child to "bounce back" from difficult experiences and to adapt well to difficult circumstances. The kids we work with at SDM have their share of difficult experiences and circumstances. Many live in poverty, lack partial or complete parental support, have experienced severe loss, and/or don't have the opportunity to complete school. By fostering resiliency, we hope to give these children the tools to thrive despite these challenges.
Our idea of resiliency has been shaped by a landmark study done on children in various countries, both "developing" and "developed", who've experienced high levels of adversity in their family or community (Bonnie Bernard,"Fostering Resiliency in Kids: Protective Factors in the Family, School, and Community"). This study looked at children who were able to thrive in spite of their circumstances and found similarities in the kids who flourished, regardless of where they lived.
Common traits among these kids including the following:
+ Problem solving skills
+ Sense of identity and autonomy
+ Social competence
+ Sense of purpose and future
An important takeaway from this study is that the kids inherently possessed these strengths. Because of this, part of the vision behind SDM is to preserve and nurture these characteristics of resiliency in children in a creative and fun way, through music and dance.
Various studies have also been done demonstrating the positive neurological and developmental effects of music and dance. And the increasing number of studies on expressive arts therapy are bringing evidence to light that music and dance can be used to help process trauma in ways that talk-therapy, alone, does not.
Ultimately, SDM is not geared at directly combating poverty, violence, and other systemic social ills in children's lives. Instead, we work to carve out a space that nurtures children's God-given strengths while promoting the divine joy, fun, and creativity of childhood.
A bit of history
So, how exactly did Sonido del Movimiento begin?
Back in 2014, there was a significant increase in the number of children immigrating from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras ("the Northern Triangle") to the United States. That same year, Christina Smith took a week-long trip to Guatemala and saw the other side of this immigration surge. She returned to her graduate studies program extensively researching the context surrounding the problems she was aware of and had witnessed first-hand in Guatemala. Her research revealed that these children were not being sufficiently heard and that the responses to the exodus of children out of the Northern Triangle, children who were leaving because of danger and systemic social ills, were inadequate. She then decided to go straight to the children in the Northern Triangle.
In January 2016, Christina conducted a pilot of Sonido del Movimiento at an after-school program for kids run by the nonprofit organization Caras Alegres in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. At first, it was difficult to see a future for SDM in this region because many people in the community had conservative views on music and dance, for religious and social reasons. However, after spending time building relationships with the community, evaluating activities, and having discussions with the kids, community, and staff of Caras Alegres it became clear that there was a desire and future for this type of expression in the community. SDM and Caras Alegres made their partnership official, and as time went on, SDM grew internally as several Guatemalan psychology students from a local university began volunteering with the organization. More and more, SDM was able to invest time building relationships with the kids at Caras Alegres and the community, work with Guatemalan musicians and dancers, assess programs, and clarify the vision for its operations.
In 2017, SDM incorporated as a nonprofit in the United States, gained a diverse and immensely qualified Board of Directors, and formally added both an extremely passionate psychology student intern from San Carlos University in Quetzaltenango and an incredibly bright and devoted development director from Upstate New York to help carry out day-to-day operations.
Since the beginning of 2018, SDM has been hard at work in both the United States and Guatemala. In the States, SDM has been finalizing government registration details and other legalities while forming partnerships with organizations stateside that have similar missions. We have also been working with various fundraising initiatives and events in Philadelphia and New York City. In Guatemala, the SDM team has been continuing our commitment to listen to the children, families, and musicians and dancers of the area through assessments and research, as well as organizing several community music activities.
As for the future? Well, SDM has big dreams, including expanding our programs to serve children in Honduras, El Salvador, and children in the States from the Northern Triangle. But our immediate priority is to continue our work in Guatemala, nurturing the relationships we have begun and value highly and searching for more partnerships to serve children in other areas of Guatemala as well.
While we at SDM have plans, dreams, and goals for our projects, we are fully aware that it is God's Spirit guiding our work and our future as an organization as we strive to follow his call to love, compassion, and connection.