Cindy Foley and Candy Foelix aren’t naive to hip hop’s negative reputation.
The sisters know the stereotypes better than anyone. They grew up in this culture; they spent their early years at all-night raves, breaking (better known as breakdancing) until their muscles ached, emceeing and DJing hip hop shows until the sun rose.
But now they’re both moms, and they know there’s some truth to the social stigma surrounding hip hop culture’s safety. So, they did something about it.
In 2012, the two founded the Child of this Culture Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to fostering positive, inspirational interactions with hip hop culture in Central Florida and beyond. From breaking battles to graffiti writing classes, Child of this Culture serves to promote the artistic and cultural value of hip hop for people of all ages.
“Hip hop is for everyone,” Cindy said. “Our community is positive, it’s fun, it’s diverse and it’s something that anyone can do.”
Child of this Culture provides programming for both kids and adults, despite the name, but Cindy and Candy are particularly proud of their work to inspire youth to express themselves through hip hop. One such program is the Urban Arts Project, which was funded this year through a United Arts project grant. The Urban Arts Project connects kids and teens in the Pine Hills community with a graffiti writer who teaches the participants the art of graffiti writing (on a wall they have permission to paint, of course) over the course of an 8-week program.
The results, Cindy said, are astounding, both in terms of the art the participants create and the confidence they gain after completing the program.
Aside from failing to wear the proper mask, there aren’t that many risks involved in graffiti writing. Breaking, on the other hand, comes with a plethora of injury risks. This is what prompted the sisters to introduce “COTC Safe”, their organizational policies and procedures to safeguard the physical and emotional health of their program participants. This initiative includes insurance coverage options for breaking athletes.
These sort of safety measures aren’t common, the sisters admitted, but they’re hoping to lead by example.
“We want to be the voice out there to hold others accountable,” Cindy said.
Cindy and Candy want to be the voice for the hip hop community to achieve a whole lot more, too. They’re working to bring more opportunities to Central Florida for local breakers to compete, helping leaders around the country start hip hop programs in their communities and even trying to get breaking into the Olympics.
“We’re hoping our society starts getting used to the fact that women-run organizations create a lot more safety and a lot more opportunities for these diverse spaces,” Candy said. “Women empower change.”
If you would like to support Child of this Culture’s mission or get involved, please visit childofthisculture.com.