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A girl who had started to dance at the age of two, grew up to become a dance teacher. When she became a mother to a daughter, it was only obvious that she wished that even her angel could shake a leg. Kim Smith, from North Carolina tried to find a class fit for her 7-year-old-daughter, Reagan, who is autistic and has a short attention span. Her heart broke when she could not find a single class for her daughter as there were no dance classes for kids with special needs and that is when she decided to take matters into her own hands, which lead to the birth of ‘A Chance To Dance.’

The Special Dance Studio, ‘A Chance To Dance’

In 2015, she posted a request on Facebook as to whether she could get space to teach children how to dance. She got a positive response from Donna Mitzel from Miss Donna’s School of Dance, who herself had been teaching children since 61 years. That is how the dance studio which took birth from the wish of a daughter who wanted to dance, started with 7 students in the year 2015 and today there are 34 students who are being taught by 10 volunteers along with Kim Smith. In the same year, the kids from Smith’s class performed at a recital with students of Miss Donna’s School and they all got a standing ovation, told Kim to Today, which recently featured a story about the dance studio.

Image Courtesy: Courtesy Sarah Nelson Garcia Con

Kim started all this for her daughter, but today she has special needs kids with varied talents. Some of them are now in a competitive team and they are soon going to even participate in competitions which have non-disabled dancers. Kim says she took 10 children with different disabilities and did a tap dance routine with them, which they did.

A Happy Place For Kids

For Kim, any child with special needs who wants to dance is welcome in her studio and the great part is that she modifies her style so that every child who comes to her, learns how to dance, and they all do it beautifully and happily.

The students that come to Smith’s  dancing studio have a variety of conditions, including autism, Down syndrome, blindness, achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism), cerebral palsy, lower leg amputations and epilepsy. Smith makes sure that all her students do their best according to their potential. Dancing has transformed the lives of many of her students and she hopes that even others see the true potential of her students. She feels very excited when she feels that these kids are showing something great to the world.

Image Courtesy: Karen Garfein

Sophia Grace, 6, has been dancing with Smith and her students since the classes started and now she dances as a part of the competitive team. Sophia Grace has tuberous sclerosis, which is a genetic disorder that causes tumors in various parts of the body such as brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, skin and lungs. Although the tumors are benign, they interfere with the normal growth of the child. Till now, Sophia Grace has had two brain surgeries and she will be needing another this summer. Apart from tuberous sclerosis, she also has epilepsy, autism, and ADHD. But, even after so many conditions, she never lets her health stop her from pursing dance as she gets to make friends here and most importantly, she gets to be who she is. Her mother, Angie Sinyard says that it is one thing that she really looks forward to every week and if they let her, she would wear her tutus and the other ballet stuff all day long all throughout the week. The mother says that although Sophia never lacked confidence but people treated her differently, and that was not so in the dancing studio. She feels happy that here, her daughter is with people who accept her for who she is.

For the upcoming competitive season, the team has prepared a dance routine to “Singing in the Rain” and when Sinyard saw her daughter on stage, she felt tears forming. She said that she and her husband must have cried for a full 30-minutes after watching their darling daughter perform on stage for the first time.

Another proud mother, Carmen Wood was once apprehensive as to whether her daughter Sophia, 11, who has Down syndrome would dance or not as Sophia had earlier refused to participate in school plays or chorus. But Smith assured her that Sophia would dance and when she saw her daughter on stage with her friends, having remembered all the dance steps, she felt that moment to be so heartwarming that she cried. She knows that now her daughter has confidence.

Image Courtesy: Sarah Nelson Conklin

What was started by a mother for her daughter now has given reasons to smile to other mothers who can see their kids dancing their hearts out. The proud teacher says, “I just want to give them the opportunity, to let them shine, I would like for people to see their faces, watch their videos, see them dance, and see the possibilities, not the disability.”

There can be nothing more special than making such special kids happy, and Smith is doing such an amazing job at this that we love her from the bottom of our hearts.

Please share this story if it touched your heart and help spread the message that special needs kids are indeed SPECIAL!

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