Children With Special Needs Learn Dance in New Program

4 years 8 months 1 week ago Friday, April 04 2014 Apr 4, 2014 Friday, April 04, 2014 9:36:00 AM CDT April 04, 2014 in News
By: Justin Paprocki, Aaron Pellish and Josephine Peterson, KOMU 8 Reporters
loading

COLUMBIA - It looks like a routine children's ballet class at first. The elementary-age students do some of the basic dance moves - a plié, a chasse and a pirouette - their little feet and legs trying to match their instructors' direction.

Missouri Contemporary Ballet's DanceAbility class is structured similarly to a traditional beginner's ballet class but with a few key differences. The instructors took three months to develop a class tailored to children with developmental or physical disabilities.

The genesis of the class was a chance encounter. Physical therapist Jennifer Highbarger and Missouri Contemporary Ballet school director Caroline Euker bumped into each other in downtown Columbia last summer. Highbarger, who had taken an adult ballet class at the school, works with special needs students at Columbia Public School District. She knew that one of her students with Down syndrome had taken a regular dance class at the studio. That got her thinking: Would the school do a class just with children with special needs? Euker was thinking the same thing.

"I thought it would be great for the school and these children," Euker said. "We could give more kids the opportunity to learn dance."

So the two got to work, researching similar programs and recruiting parents and volunteers to help out in the class. Part of the challenge was to develop a routine designed for children with special needs, Highbarger said. Instructors rely on a lot of visual cues for tasks. Many children with developmental disabilities may need multiple senses to understand a task. So, for example, each child wears a square of red tape on the right slipper and a blue square on the left. That way, the visual stimulus is an additional cue to the instructions of which foot to move.

"A lot of these kids need visual input, auditory input and physical input instead of just one input," Highbarger said. "That helps them a lot."

They also had to keep in mind the pacing of a class, carefully explaining a particular step or move because it typically takes children with special needs more time to process instruction. The key is making sure every student feels involved and not left behind, Highbarger said.

"A lot of parents told me that they had tried to have their children in a typical class and the kids just struggled," she said. "It was hard for the parents to see that. There are things (instructors) can do in these class - being patient, how you give instruction - that can make a big difference."

Ten children are in the inaugural class, which runs through March 5, and more than a dozen are on a waiting list for the next session, instructors said. Details have not been determined, but the school plans to expand to more classes, Euker said. At some point, Euker would like to see DanceAbility classes for all ages held year round.

Highbarger wasn't sure how the class would go, but after the first class, she left more than satisfied.

"You know the term heartwarming? My heart was warm for days," she said.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - MU Professor Francis Huang wants schools to rethink suspensions and embrace a positive learning environment. Haung conducted... More >>
10 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 10:10:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- 20 bikes and helmets were donated to Columbia kids in time for the holiday season. Big Brothers Big... More >>
12 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 7:15:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The former chief financial officer for Columbia Public Schools was sentenced Thursday to five years probation. Anna... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 6:25:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Jefferson City teen has been charged in connection with a November fatal shooting. Bruce Thomas... More >>
14 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 6:07:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Some people who live near the intersection of Vandiver Drive and Parker Street just north of Interstate 70... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 4:33:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police are investigating multiple reports of bomb threats made via email to businesses in the Columbia area,... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:52:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri Department of Transportation director Patrick McKenna met with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Thursday to discuss the... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:21:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in Continuous News
WASHINGTON D.C. - Democrat Claire McCaskill had stern words for her soon-to-be former colleagues in the Senate in a farewell... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:20:50 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
(CNN) - Gun deaths in America have reached a record high. Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:09:10 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri Department of Transportation director Patrick McKenna met with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Thursday to discuss the... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:09:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
FULTON - A warehouse complex that has been standing in Fulton, with some parts dating back to the 19th century,... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 2:45:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Community members have differing emotions after two fatal shootings in Jefferson City in less than a week.... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 2:25:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - A Columbia man was sentenced for his role in a chid sex trafficking ring, the U.S. District... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 2:20:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
HUNTSVILLE - A woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping her husband commit child sex crimes in 2015 and 2016, nearly... More >>
19 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 12:44:34 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of debate and negotiation, Congress voted final approval Wednesday to a massive farm bill that... More >>
22 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 9:57:00 AM CST December 13, 2018 in News
MEXICO - The Mexico Public Safety Department arrested a man in connection to a car theft and a home burglary... More >>
23 hours ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 8:33:00 AM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna will talk to the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Thursday about future plans for Missouri... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 7:36:00 AM CST December 13, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Police said they are investigating a fatal shooting from late Wednesday night. The Jefferson City Police... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 6:46:00 AM CST December 13, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 39°
9am 39°
10am 39°
11am 40°
12pm 41°