Very few of us can understand what it’s like for every day to be a struggle.
These kids have spent their entire lives overcoming obstacles because they can’t see, or hear, or walk. From the time they were born their parents were told to expect the worst.
“We found out about the hearing in the NICU,” says Heather Dirks, ”and they told us Lani had some brain abnormalities and we never thought she would be able to walk.”
Meghan Malloy’s son Judah suffered a brain injury at birth. “I was told he would probably live to be about a year old and to just take him home and love him.”
For these moms, having a special needs child is just part of life. For kids like Lani and Judah it means having to do stuff that isn’t very fun…until now.
Thanks to Monika Peltz and Ann Ungs these kids are dancing.The physical therapist and the dance teacher created “Dance Without Limits” so all kids can dance.
It turns out; it’s also helping them exceed expectations. “It’s helped her socially,” Heather says about Lani, “she used to not be able to interact real well with other kids. It’s also helped her attention and focus, and she’s made lots of friends here.”
Meghan says the program has been life changing. “Judah’s development has flourished so much, he’s become so much more social with the other kids and it’s been good for me too. I’ve been able to meet so many parents just like me, which is uncommon when you have a child with special needs.”
Volunteers like Madeline Ungs, say kids like Lani have changed the way they view people with special needs. “They’re really just like everyone else. A lot of times they don’t get to be involved in a lot of activities and this is a way for them to really express themselves.”
Parents say they celebrate every little milestone. But this is a big one. Kids who weren’t expected to walk or hear or even live are doing much, much, more. “Just seeing them be able to be individuals and just be like everyone else is amazing,” says mom Lorena Martin, “they love to watch other people dance so it’s great just for them to be able to do the same things.”
On stage, these kids aren’t struggling. They’re shining. For the people who love them it’s incredible - a moment they never thought they’d see
Dancer Emily Brown says, “I was super happy I was like, 'this is exquisite!'” Katelyn Scott couldn’t agree more, “It was just… just great! It made me feel good inside!”
And when you’re constantly judged by what’s on the outside - that’s a pretty amazing thing. Pretty soon, instead of expecting the worst you believe the best. “All their lives you’re told they can’t do this, they’ll never do this and here at ‘Dance Without Limits’ they can do anything. There’s unlimited potential and it’s fun to see them do that on stage.”
If you’d like to get involved visit balletdesmoines.org/dance-without-limits.