October was Down Syndrome Awareness Month, but every month many people are raised awareness and working with children with special needs to enrich their lives.
A mother in Booneville, New York, of twins with Down’s syndrome, drives three hours every weekend to make sure her children benefit from a special enrichment program.
We all dance to the beat of a different drummer. This is especially true at Celebration dance center.
Nine years ago, studio owner Jennifer Gentile created “Dance Buddies,” a program for children with special needs and traditional dance students who share the dream of dancing.
“One day I brought in a woman with her 3 year old to ask her for dance lessons, so I showed her around, I told her what she needed for her clothes. looked, she started to cry And I said, “What did I do? And she said,” Well, it’s clear that my kid has Down syndrome. And she said that there were other studios in the area that wouldn’t allow her child to dance there. friend and someone modeling their behavior, ”said Gentile.
Carpenter says she is grateful for all the connections the family makes through Dance Buddies.
“They would never have met these buddies. These buddies are amazing. They really take these girls and boys and really work with them. It’s just an amazing place. We have met so many amazing people. Jen is fabulous. Girls love to come here. Besides, this morning I said, “My daughters, it’s time to get ready for the dance. They got up, they ran, they got ready, they were all excited. They had to wear their Elsa and Anna outfits. My daughters with Down’s syndrome are very rare – that they are identical – and it is 1%. So it is very rare that you also meet other families with identical twins. Knowing that there is someone else and that we are all in the same boat, ”Carpenter said.
“I love to teach,” said Gentile. “And no matter the ability or the disability, I go into a classroom and I look at a child and I assess what their needs are for me, and I teach them. And so, every kid here, whether they’re a typical dancer or a dancer with special needs, we all go with the same attitude – that is, the kid really wants to learn, dance and be a part. of that, but every parent has the same hopes and dreams for their child, and honestly, when the kids are dancing on stage, I look at the faces of the parents. And that is really what is precious. To see these parents tear each other apart. A parent is a parent, and a child is a child.
Gentile doesn’t just teach dance to those with special needs. She also defends them.
After years of asking for sens-friendly clothing from dance wear companies, this month Revolution Dance Costumes provided sens-friendly dance costumes, and the Dance Buddies were invited to New Jersey to perform at the United Dance Merchants of America fashion show.
It is an experience for the dancers and their families that they have never dreamed of.