Performing Life, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Founded in 2005 by John Connell, Performing Life started with a class of 6 students, but has now helped over 500 young people to develop skills that allow them to express themselves through the performing arts. The aim is to help these people find their talents and help keep them focused on their futures by encouraging them to stay in school whilst undertaking the activities Performing Life have to offer.

Inspired by the ways in which children living on the street could make a living, John Connell decided to apply what he had learned from his experience in Bolivia to a larger scope - trying to give young people a more prosperous financial future. Music and performing arts are a fun, engaging way in which young people are able to empower themselves, gain confidence and learn new skills. This combined with promoting the value of education hopes to craft better prospects for young children whose development is often affected by life on the streets and influence of drugs. Performing Life strive to create an atmosphere of positivity and assist people with reintegrating with society through artistic outlets. John Connell believes that these techniques could be the engine for social change that would help reconstruct the community of Cochabamba; which could suggest a means for Bolivia to end the social exclusion that is rife. 

The social development of young people is one side to the programmes offered by Performing Life, but the main objective is to keep them from returning to the streets, which are riddled with the dangers of drugs, alcohol, crime and abuse. The wellbeing of the participants is paramount to the success of the organisation and removing those vulnerable aspects from their lives brings not just a sense of satisfaction, but also a sense of opportunity for the young people who have lived a life of poverty on the streets of Cochabamba. 

Performing Life recognise that the need for a sustainable future for the young people it works with, the desire to see them grow and develop as people is one that limits the amount of time that the organisation can work with them. Most of the recipients of Performing Life's classes are encouraged to find work once they turn 18, or they can become paid instructors with the organisation. However many save money up using the skills they have learned through Performing Life and are able to provide sanitary homes for their families or put those skills to good use creating a happier future for themselves. 

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