Back Arts & Culture » Culture » Saigoneer Dispatches: How a Phnom Penh Youth Center is Using Hip Hop to Empower Street Kids

Through an unassuming alley in a slum of Phnom Penh, the deep beat of a bass line rings. One and two and three and four echoes off its dusty walls. Kids are dancing. Breakdancing.

It's here you'll find Tiny Toones Youth Center. I’ve met with up with Reuth “Short” Chhoeung, the center’s General Manager, to talk about what Tiny Toones is all about and what drives them.

Started by Tuy Sobil aka KK, Tiny Toones began as a concept to keep kids off the street by giving them a sense of self-worth and community through breakdance. Since opening, Tiny Toones has become a Youth Center that offers classes in DJing, rapping, music production, singing, art as well as English, Khmer, math and computing.

While the center has grown, the do it yourself mantra rings deep.

Tiny Toones' teachers come from the same streets as the kids. Their work exemplifies the alternatives to begging, substance abuse and gangs and the center provides shelter from domestic violence. For many of the center’s kids, it’s the only source of education they will ever have.

By fostering a sense of security, Tiny Toones works tirelessly to empower Phnom Penh's street kids. The center looks towards the future by aiming to provide students opportunities outside the classroom by giving them skills to gain employment and further education. By creating this sense of empowerment, Tiny Toones has quickly become a preferred partner of NGO’s looking for an alternative source of education for impoverished Cambodian children.

Be sure to check out more great photos from Lee on his website.


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