Students at the Children’s Therapy Centre in New Jersey came together last week for the school’s ninth annual ballet recital. The dancers, who each face various physical, medical and developmental challenges, performed for a proud audience of family members and carers.
The recital was the brainchild of paediatric physical therapist, Lynn Barral, who is also the centre’s Assistant Director. The school was set up to provide programs and services for special needs children.
Barral first began using ballet as a therapeutic tool to help the students develop their motor skills and improve focus – as well as enjoy the team building exercise of group dance.
“No matter what their ability is, the children know that there is something special and exciting happening for them..that is what is so thrilling!” Barral told PIX11 News.
All year the ballet dancers and their aids practice their moves in preparation for the final dance. The aids are essential in the therapy as most of the participants cannot walk or speak which is why music and dance are employed as a universal treatment.
“We have one little girl who never indicated any acknowledgement of anything that people were saying, but every time we say ‘Here’s a dance for your legs,’ she kicks her leg…It just makes you realise how much is in some of these children, but they can’t communicate it.” said physical therapist Margaret Nogaki.
The experience is not only amazing for the children, but inspiring for the parents also, who get to watch their children participate in an activity that is so often made unavailable to them because of their disabilities.
“It really is a dream come true to see them participate in something that I see so many other children participate in.. And it really wouldn’t have been able to happen except here.”