Ever since Julie Chafin took her daughter, Ally, to compete in a cheerleading competition in Columbus, Ohio, she has wanted to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities.
Chafin was shocked by the amount of special needs children that were competing at the cheerleading competition. Now, Chafin is teaching a dance class for special needs children at the Charmion Performing Arts Center in Circleville.
Here are some quick facts about the class:
- The class meets on Wednesdays for a 45-minute session.
- It’s a creative movement class that’s modified. If the children can stand on their toes to do an activity, they can.
- The class, ballet slippers and costume for the recital is free. Heidi and Marc Rogols, who own Charmion Performing Arts Center, pay for everything.
- The recital will take place on June 5 and June 6 at Teays Valley High School in Asheville. The class will perform two dances. One of the dances will be a tap dance, and the other dance will be a ballet dance.
Tabitha Warren, who lives in Circleville, has two granddaughters who are in the class. Alexis, 8, and Josie, 5, have not been able to make friends as easily as other children who are the same age as them.
“In school, no one wants to play with them because they have special needs,” Warren says.
The dance class has helped both girls make friends and develop socially.
“They are no longer introverted,” she says. “They can interact with the other kids and deal with the situations the dance class provides.”
Last year, Alexis and Josie participated in the class dance recital. After the performance, Chafin says the crowd gave the class two standing ovations.
“I cried, cried and cried some more,” Warren says. “A year ago, they wouldn’t talk. Now, they are so happy to be in the same class with other girls.”
In the first full year of the class, nine children enrolled. This year, three additional children signed up for the class.
Chafin says the future is bright for the children.
“Lots of people are not aware of this, so when news gets out there about the class I think it will explode,” Chafin says.
Rogols says the children aren’t the only ones who benefit from the class.
“We feel amazing for doing this,” Rogols says. “It’s all about these kids and providing them a chance to dance.”