'Dancing Above the Barre:' Ballet Class for Children With Special Needs

Ballet Club Helps Kids With Special Needs

GREENSBORO, NC -- There are moms and dads out there who never thought they’d see their little girls or boys dance but one Triad organization is offering a class determined to help give every child a chance.

From the techniques to the twirls, at Greensboro Ballet, everyone is included.

“Dancing Above the Barre” is a therapy session for special needs children disguised as a ballet class.

Volunteers like Mariah Glenn partner with children who have physical and mental disabilities to teach them the fundamentals of ballet.

“I love working with the kids,” said Glenn. “Getting them to push their limits and seeing what they can do because they can do way more than anyone thinks.” 

Kaitlyn Williams was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after suffering a traumatic brain injury when she was just three months old.

Doctors told her family she’d never walk or talk, let alone dance.

“It’s hard when you have to watch your child not be able to participate or do other things that you see normal kids running around doing,” said Donna Williams, Kaitlyn’s Grandmother. “Here, she gets to fly. She gets to be a ballerina.”

Now, at 11 years old, Williams is strutting her stuff with a smile on her face.

“They don’t know my God. I serve an awesome God. He had different plans for Kaitlyn,” said Williams. “She’s not 11 years old mentally but she certainly not three months old either. And she’s doing ballet. She’s not laying in a baby bed like they said she would be.”

The class is not not just for girls.

17-year-old Rob Hardy, who was born with down syndrome, has danced in each class for the last 10 years!

“My heart just bursts with pride,” said Rob’s Grandmother Ellen Simpson. “Everybody who knows me knows that I love Rob so much. There’s nothing he won’t try. You could ask him to climb the Eiffel Tower and he would try.”

Building confidence with each new move and being put in a position to land on their feet despite whatever challenges life gives them.

“This is somewhere they can come and there with other kids like them and they feel part of something,” said Williams. “That’s what everybody needs in their life, to feel like they’re a part of something.”

The ballet class meets each Saturday for nine weeks.

At the end of the session, the children put on a performance for family and friends at the Cultural Arts Center.

The next class will be offered in September.

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