Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dancing away differences: Event draws awareness to Down Syndrome, other disabilities

by Mike Landis and Robin Yancey from KY3:
Shuffling their feet to the beat, kids (and kids at heart) demonstrated their dance moves.
“The kids- they are dancers. I mean, that is the one thing that everybody always says about individuals with Down Syndrome…they can boogie,’ exclaimed Gretchen Miekley, Executive Director of Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks.  The organization hosted a special ‘Spring Fling’ dance Friday night for individuals and families affected by Down Syndrome and other disabilities.
Down Syndrome, a developmental disorder, creates special hurdles for those like Khia Grey.
“I like going out and having a fun time with my friends,” she stated.
The event was a chance people with disabilities to forget about their challenges, and instead concentrate on being a kid.
“I danced and I ate and it is pretty fun here really…it like it here…I dressed up and all for it,” Khia explained.  “No matter who you are you can still have a fun time and just be yourself.”
This Spring Fling was a special event put on by, not only the Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks, but also the Springfield-Greene County Parks Board.
The parks department is experiencing growth in its Accessible Recreation program for those with disabilities.  The Miracle League baseball program is one example.
“The progression some of our participants have made through the use of the program is just phenomenal to see their self-esteem increase, their overall well-being, stated Cyrus Taylor, Accessible Recreation Supervisor. “ It just blows me away to see how much people are capable of.  It is unbelievable."
Whether on the baseball diamond or the dance floor, individuals are able to focus on their abilities, as oppose to their disabilities.
“It normalizes them.  Everybody has an issue.  Everyone has bullies, they have health issues, they have financial issues, educational issues, and everyone has feelings,” stated Miekley.
For more information about resources and outreach programs for those impacted by Down Syndrome,  you can visit the website for Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks.
More information can also be found online about the Accessible Recreation Program with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.

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