Saturday is Dance Day and Down Syndrome Day – thus the perfect opportunity for a post about special people. After all, I imagine many may not see a link between ballroom dance and Down Syndrome.
I volunteer at a weekly dance event that is not only fun, but one with ample opportunities for smiles because it is for adults with Down Syndrome. Some of the attendees are functional enough to have a job, but others aren’t. Some a more coordinated and able to move better freely, but others physically struggle. Toss in a wide range of speaking abilities, it’s quite a gathering of about 30 attendees and numerous volunteers.
My smiles come from an action or something said. From a person running up to me for a dance to receiving a smile given by someone who has difficulty speaking. Simply put, the 45-minute session is a weekly delight in my life.
However, these events are not about the volunteers, but about the attendees. First of all, it’s a social event. They arrive with smiles and race to greet their friends they haven’t seen in a week. That is followed by the power of music and dance as it speaks to them just as it does to the rest of us.
Each week is the same. The 45-minute session starts and ends with the same song – the group’s theme song – a version of Over the Rainbow to which everyone dance a group routine. After a line dance or two, the instructor reviews the dance, and then a song plays for dancing. Another song for the same dance is the sign to change partners. The pattern stays the same through Rumba, Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Tango, and Merengue – with the latter quickly morphing into a predictable conga line. After another line dance or two, the session ends with the same theme song that started it all.
I want to toast several of the attendees for the joys they give me.
- To T, one of the better dancers, and one with an infectious smile and positive attitude
- To K, whose quiet nature always answers question and giggles
- To S, who is always smiling and laughing as she thinks I’m a bit crazy
- To C, who best communicates to me through her eyes and smiles that make me melt on the spot
- To J, who runs to me with a smile for a salsa or cha cha
- To R, who insists on being a lady
- To Teddy, one that I’ve written about here before, whose positive attitude about life is a role model for anyone
- To the parents and caregivers for being supportive
- To Mary, our leader (the blonde in the opening video), and the one who has made this happen
I close with a collection of clips for the competition held last October for these wonderful people. (Because you want to know, I’m in Foxtrot, Swing & Tango sections with contestants 35 & 54 – but I think that’s me in the center of the still)
Other Related Past Posts
- A post of an article from several years ago (not only before I became involved, but even before I ever attended this studio)
- Last fall’s dance competition that got me involved
- A post about Teddy