I recently found out about a wonderful woman, Joann Ferrara, out of New York City who is working with disabled little girls to make one of their childhood dreams come true - become ballerinas!
I know when I was little, just like most little girls, my dream was to be a ballerina. I didn't even think about the reality of the matter - that I couldn't possilbly do the moves or twirl my body anywhere near as gracefully as a true ballerina could. I don't even remember asking to take ballet classes. But I remember looking at ballet books and "dancing" around the house. In my mind, I was a ballerina. It was possible!
Now, with Ferrara's help, the dream truly is possible for the disabled little girls in her area.
Ferrara is a physical therapist. Her daughter is disabled. Yet she wanted to take ballet classes. But all the available, standard classes wouldn't take her. Too much of an insurance risk. Not the right tools to accommodate her. Not enough staff to help teach.
So Ferrara started these classes, asking area teens to help out and assist each child one-on-one to learn the moves and try out their new skills. Sure, there's no fancy pirouettes and "leaps" are made with the full assistance of the teens. But nonetheless, it is a real ballet class through and through. Followed by an annual recital where the little ballerinas can show off their abilities in all their full glory.
How wonderful people like Joann Ferrara exist - helping disabled little girls integrate into the popular, mainstream activities they had only dreamt about until this point.
And on recital night - the tutus. tiaras and leotards act as a sort of invisibility cloak for the braces, crutches and walkers. All that exists is a fairyland of leaps and twirls... and a room full of gleeming grins full of joy and pride!