By Alex Wilks, Now-Leader contributor
SURREY — A small but energetic group of dancers showed up to the opening evening of Dance without Limits Surrey on July 20th.
The program is an active dance class for individuals with various disabilities to explore dance and creative movement in a safe and inclusive environment.
“They’re mingling with kids that they don’t know and they’re making friends,” said Lindsay Macleod, programs co-ordinator of the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC. “It’s from ideally five to 15 years old but it’s not a rigid age range.”
The casual class begins with a little interactive stretching and continues with games that focus on movements targeted for each child by the instructor.
“I like to pick things that are adaptable like touching your toes,” explained dance teacher Danika Milne. “So if there’s someone that sort of can’t reach all the way to the ground I tell them to touch their knees instead.
“I like things that are sort of easy for everyone to figure a way that’s comfortable for them.”
“Kids come that have very limited mobility and are in wheelchairs so we still make sure there’s a lot of upper body movement,” explained Macleod. “Whatever is the strength of the child.”
All the routines and exercises designed by Milne are adaptable for both able-bodied individuals as well as any participants in a wheelchair or on crutches.
“I really love how social the class is,” she notes smiling.
“I know that’s not the main aspect of the class but we come in and we visit and it’s fun for everyone.”
Learning a few moves every week, regular attendees are able to build up an entire dance routine by the end of ten sessions.
“My son has enjoyed this program and become more active,” emphasized father Thomas Tang.
“If he didn’t have this program then he would just sit at home and watch TV. Here he gets to play with the other kids so he enjoys it.”
Siblings, parents and support staff are invited to join the class.
“In the past we’ve had a lot of children come with their able-bodied siblings and it’s an awesome time because everybody is participating. The kids with disabilities are bonding with their peers,” explained Macleod.
Funding received from the Surrey Cares Community Foundation, the City of Surrey and Whalley Legion Branch 229 have allowed the program to remain free to the public.
“We’re always looking for more to join. We have this huge space,” adds Macleod. “We run the group as a drop-in so there’s no commitment. You don’t have to come every week.”
The group meets at the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre in Surrey Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. until the end of September.