By Jeanne Morton
The dancers entering the studio for CPABC’s Dance Without Limits have a wide variety of abilities –some are in wheelchairs, some wearing braces, some with walkers and some with a slight limp that you’d barely notice. What is common amongst the dancers is their enthusiasm. Whether bounding and skipping into the studio like Taryn, or shyly peeping from her stroller like Karen, their smiles are as infectious as their energy as Rebecca starts the class.
”Oh no”, groans one dancer good naturedly, “Not Y-steps “as Rebecca leads the class across the floor, counting out sequences of movement.
Taryn’s Dad described the benefits they have experienced: “She loves to come here. It’s physical activity, but it’s fun –not boring. She talks about it all week long.” Steve says that it’s not a competition; there’s no contest. Everyone is dancing in his or her own way. “She was so proud to dance in the recital last year in North Van.”
Parents of special needs children find it very difficult to find programs for physical activity for their kids, he says, and, “especially with special needs in the family, everything gets real expensive, fast”. Thanks to support from sponsors like Variety, the Children’s Charity, Dance without Limits is free of charge to the participants.
At Dance without Limits, Taryn is engaged physically as well as artistically. “It’s good for her mind, too”, her dad observes as Taryn runs over to relinquish the stuffed dog she had been holding during the first part of class.
Not only do the dancers themselves look forward to the classes, their parents have formed firm bonds as well: “Everyone learns from each other. There are always different tips” Dance without Limits not only builds self-esteem of the dancers, but also provides the family with peer support breaking down the social isolation that often devastates families with children with special needs.