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And The Winners Are …

And the winners are ….Bboy Suicide and Bboy Freeze!
Suicide and Freeze, who are both Tiny Toones alumni, just WON the Breaking Battle at the IFC –  Institut Francois Cambodge in Phnom Penh. This was a really big competition with some incredible breakdancers. Their skill and raw talent saw them take it over the line. We could not be more proud of the dedication, resilience and perseverance of these two shining role models and dancers.
And as if the prestige and recognition is not enough, their prize, as outlined by the IFC is that, “They are going to France in October for two weeks as well as participate in the Trophy Masters Competition in Toulouse…. The Trophy Masters Competition will be amazing, breakdancers from all around the world will be there to compete.”
This is incredible exciting news for the boys and also for Tiny Toones centre. We are always so thrilled to see our kids thrive and to show the young ones, the next generation, that anything is possible.
What we (the Board of Directors) love most about this? Well there is SO much to love about this, but … the very first thing that these two boys, or we should say, young men, did was drive with DJ Kdep (a famous local DJ and also Tiny Toones alumni) straight to KK’s house to share the news and celebrate with him.
A huge congratulations goes out to Bboy Suicide and Bboy Freeze and best of luck for France.

New Documentary on KK underway

We were so honored to have the incredible Kevin Frilet and Nicolas Petris, two talented French movie producers, visit our centre at Chba Ampoev. They are here making a documentary about Tiny Toones Founder, Tuy Sobil – better known as ‘KK’, and his influence on the hip hop and dance community in Cambodia.

KK started breakdancing at 8 years old in Long Beach, California. When he was deported to Cambodia in 2004, he brought his dancing experience and skills to Phnom Penh, where Tiny Toones was born. KK’s influence in Cambodia’s hip hop culture is undeniable and through his resilience and reputation, he not onl started this centre but also started breakdancing championships, international breakdancing competitions, and much, much more.

We, Tiny Toones, are so excited about this documentary. Although we are only in the beginning stages right now, once it is complete it will be featured in Radikal Magazine or @RadiKal_Magazine (on Instagram) and beyond.

Congrats to our Founder on this wonderful opportunity for him to, once again, share his love of hip hop, breakdancing, creative art, and continuing to help the Tiny Toones students and community.

Asia Insight TV Episode: ‘Cambodia’s Hip Hop School for Children’

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NHK World-Japan television, Asia Insight episode, Oct 2023.

Founder and CEO of Tiny Toones, KK says: “Hip hop is like a colour to me. Who’d want to live in a world without colour?”

“In this episode, we chronicle a the day spent at this alternative school, striving to give all children there, a bright future.” In 2005, Cambodia’s first alternative school, Tiny Toones, was opened in Phnom Penh. In addition to general subjects, it adds courses on rap and dance into the mix. It was founded by a Cambodian man raised in the United States, who discovered a new purpose imparting his unique knowledge to young people. Most of the students come from impoverished backgrounds, and some enroll after dropping out of the public school system, or fleeing a turbulent family life.

“Today, we meet the staff and children who have created a new place to belong through their shared love of hip-hop.” 

Learn here about Tiny Toones, the hip hop centre that offers free education for any student – to learn in school subjects based on their academic level.

Listen to an interview with founder and CEO, KK, and meet some of the students including two new students, 15 and 17 year-old brothers who had until now, missed out on all facets of childhood. At Tiny Toones they get to study, play, sing and dance.

Meet Tiny Toones graduates (alumni) including Vouich, a professional rapper and music producer who teaches words games as part of their practice before teaching children to rap, saying, “Rap builds confidence.” Female Tiny Toones graduate (alumni) Serey also visits the centre. She is one of Cambodia’s most recognised female rap artists and comes to rap and sing with Vouich and other graduated artists. We also meet Tiny Toones graduate (alumni) Bboy Frog who continues to work at the centre and is the caretaker on the ground. Lastly we meet Tiny Toones graduate (alumni) Bboy Slick and other graduate dancers who return to the centre daily to practice as a team whilst rehearsing for a television dance competition. Naturally the newer kids love it when the alumni arrive and they get to watch and learn from their heros.

 

A huge thank you to NHK-Japan for this short documentary, episode news piece. What a joy and pleasure to work with this team of professionals who spent some real time at our centre, truly getting to know and understand our staff, volunteers, former staff and the kids we work with.

 Watch full episode

 

“Be part of our future”- a personal letter from KK

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Dear friends, family, supporters,

This is a personal message from KK. It’s Tiny Toones’ 10th year of working in Cambodia’s toughest communities with its poorest kids and there have been beautiful things happening, like our big birthday party. But we also want to be real with you about our current situation. We are struggling to pay our teachers, the heart of everything we do, and we need to take positive action to fix that and secure our future. We want you to be part of that future.

That’s why we are launching The 100 Club. It’s an exclusive club for just 100 of our best friends, supporters and anyone in the big Tiny Toones family. If you give just $10 every month you automatically become a member and in return you’ll get a totally unique handwritten card every year from me, a student you have helped, and a teacher. You’ll receive some very cool exclusive videos of our kids performing, just for you. Your name will also be featured in our wall of fame, a permanent art work in our Phnom Penh centre (membership would also make a great gift!)

Just $10 a month is enough to pay one of our teachers for a day, who then go on to educate 40 or more kids. Where else can you get that kind of return on investment? If we can sign up 100 of you by the year’s end, that’s at least $1,000 a month – which will cover all our teachers’ basic salaries.

If you already give every month you are already a member of the club! If not, please consider joining.

Why do we need to launch the 100 Club? Most of you know what a small NGO we are, and how low our costs are. But did you know that they are around $70,000 annually? That’s the money for everything – including the rent on our centre, teachers and administration staff – and it’s lower than what some large NGOs might pay a single foreign employee here in Cambodia.

In many ways, we like this. What we offer – dance training to engage and motivate kids who nobody else can reach, and a basic education to help them rejoin the public school system – doesn’t need to cost hundreds of thousands let alone millions of dollars here in Cambodia.

Keeping our costs low means we have to stay laser focused on sticking to what we do best, which is creating a safe and creative space for kids, where they get support and schooling. Not being funded by Government or major institutions means we can reach kids who might otherwise not “qualify” for NGO support, because their families are too chaotic to have the proper paperwork, or are assessed as too dysfunctional.

But the low costs mean we don’t have a huge team of fundraisers and marketers out there to raise cash for us, unlike many NGOs. Our total investment in all communications and fundraising last year was less than $200. Our fundraising and marketing staff for the last year has been a single volunteer, who also has a full time job. And that makes it difficult to compete for funding.

We have been incredibly fortunate this year to receive a grant from the Kavli Foundation, which has paid for the rent on our centre and some other core infrastructure costs. That’s allowed us to focus on our teachers. We need to pay our existing teaching staff, who are already teaching more kids than they should (the total needed is $3,060 for the rest of the year). If we can do that, we need to recruit 3 more teachers, to give our kids an even better chance at catching up on the education missed (that’s $2,700). And if we can do that we hope to increase all the teachers’ salaries by a small amount, after years where they have stayed the same and we have become less competitive with other NGOs.

We have managed to keep going for ten years through the last minute generosity of good friends and individual donations. Now we are looking to create a new more stable future. We are revamping our social enterprise, The Cool Lounge, in order to bring in revenue, and we are looking for further grants. But nothing will bring us greater security and ability to plan ahead than 100 regular givers.

If you can afford it, we love you and we appreciate you. If you can’t, we love you and we understand and if you ever find yourself able to afford a one off donation, that also helps us enormously. Check out our donations website here.

We have lots of exciting things planned and can’t wait to get started, with you on our side.

Love

KK

Tiny Toones Is 10 – Party In Phnom Penh on June 30th!

On June 30th, Tiny Toones will celebrate its 10th Birthday with an explosive afternoon of creativity, dance, DJing, live graffiti and massive performers from some of Cambodia’s most exciting stars. Everyone is invited to attend this free event at Factory Phnom Penh, from 12-6. To find out more and sign up to attend, go HERE.

Performers, dancers, DJs and artists confirmed include superstar Nikki Nikki, the Tiny Toones Crew, former student turned rapper Sang Sok Serey, KlapYaHandz, 12me, Kreative Kings, Khmer Thorsue, DJ Cake, DJ Niko Yu, DJ Jay, DJ Shadow, DJ B-Roc, Kbach Crew and more special guests.

“When I first set up Tiny Toones and began offering a few street kids breakdancing lessons, my biggest hope was that one of them might make something of their lives,” said Tiny Toones founder Tuy “KK” Sobil. “I can’t believe that so many have gone on to be successful, and are going to be performing as talented adult artists on Saturday, showing off their rapping, dancing, singing and creative talents. I’m so proud, and so excited about Saturday.”

In June 2008, Tiny Toones finally moved out of founder Tuy “KK” Sobil’s cramped apartment and set up its first real centre in the community, where it began offering disadvantaged and marginalized kids education alongside the breakdancing lessons which had made it locally famous. Its aim was to turn kids away from gangs, drugs and crime, and towards education and a better future.

Ten years later, Tiny Toones has reached over 15,000 kids, and educates more than 100 a day at its centre. 80% of its students, many of whom had dropped out of school or never been, return to public school. 96% have gone on to meaningful employment, thousands have successfully stayed away from drugs and crime, and many have become celebrated rappers, dancers and artists shaping Cambodia’s creative culture.

“I don’t know what I would have done without Tiny Toones, they helped me find my talent,” said Sang Sok Serey, former Tiny Toones student, now rap star. “Tiny Toones helps kids who are hungry for education but cannot pay. They even bring them from far away, if they don’t live nearby. The kids then have space to learn what they need to. Its so good for them. And I would like to see them supported much more in the future, which I hope this event will help with.”

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