Teaming Up for Kids with Special Needs

Last fall, Orlando Health and Nemours partnered with the Orlando Ballet to offer workshops providing dance lessons to kids, aged three to six, with physical challenges. Participants in Come Dance With Us!, were able to experience a new and creative way to enhance mobility, independence and confidence.

“Dance is beneficial for all kids,” explained Jennifer Bowling, Physical Therapist at OrlandoHealth Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. “It allows them to explore their surroundings,express themselves, and investigate the world of the arts. From a therapist’s stand point, it is a wonderful and fun way to work on mobility, strength, motor planning, and spatial awareness.Dance provides a way to practice the strategies and interventions we’re focusing on in therapy and incorporate them into their daily play.”

Each of the two lessons was specially designed to fit the needs of the participants, and allowed healthcare experts to partner with dancers from the ballet to provide helpful tips and instructions that were eventually compiled into a routine set to an original score from Beauty and the Beast. The newly trained ballerinas were then invited to see Beauty and the Beast at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts topped off by a special backstage visit with the performers.

For many of the participants, the workshop was their first involvement in a dance class and was a rewarding experience for them, their parents and their therapists. Orlando Ballet hopes to make the workshop an annual event and garner participation from all three local children’s hospitals.