Doing Good: Theater company offers free dance classes for special needs children
By Devika Rao
For the AJC
Angela Graham has always had a passion for special needs children. Her passion drove her to become a special needs teacher at Kennedy Elementary School in Barrow County. “I really wanted to dedicate my life to making a difference in these children’s lives,” said Graham, who has also had a love for dance since the age of two.
Combining both of her passions, Graham developed a dance class for special needs children three years ago. The dance class is held every week throughout the school year at the Southern Ballet Theatre in Lawrenceville.
Every Thursday, the kids come to learn dance with Graham, and work on a recital that is performed in June for their parents. Last year, the children performed an American Bandstand themed recital for their parents and the community.
The classes have made a huge difference in the lives of families that partake in them.
Jennifer Harris has enrolled her daughter, Hannah, in the special needs dance class since its beginning. Hannah has cerebral palsy, and the dance class offers the six-year-old with fun and excitement that is also therapeutic.
The ballet and tap dance classes act as a form of therapy through the rhythm and energy of the dance steps and music.
“It really makes a difference for Hannah, physically through her movements and also just the fun of dancing brings her so much happiness,” said Jennifer. “It’s also fun for us as we see our little girl going to dance class and preparing for her recital. It gives us, as a family, a sense of normalcy.”
The dance classes start this Thursday at the Southern Ballet Theatre, and for the fist time will be offered at no cost.
“Families of these special children already have major financial bills,” shared Graham. “We thought this would be one less worry for them while their kids can learn, smile, and have lots of fun through dance.”
In other news: The Fifth Annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival held at JCT Kitchen & Bar on July 21 raised $30,000 for Georgia Organics. Georgia Organics is a member supported, non-profit organization connecting organic food from Georgia farms to Georgia families.
To learn more about the special needs dance classes, call the Southern Ballet Theatre at 770-940-9223.
An economy that sent more people to the workforce instead of the classroom, tougher requirements for financial aid, and a higher bar for admissions are among the factors that contributed to a drop in enrollment at the state’s public colleges and universities for the second year in a row.