Free Dance Classes Help Lift Spirits Of Kids In Hospitals

by Mike Julianelle
Image via Facebook

Nonprofit “Dancin Power” treats kids in California hospitals to free dance lessons

Sick kids on the west coast are being treated to free dance lessons, courtesy of the nonprofit organization Dancin Power. According to The Huffington Post, the California-based nonprofit group was formed in 2006, but a recent video of them at work went viral, bringing them well-deserved attention.

Dancin Power doesn’t let their students’ various restrictions prevent them from shaking their tail feathers. In fact, their classes are designed specifically to work around any emotional and physical limitations. The goal is to use dance to lift spirits, and as the video shows, they’ll stop at nothing to get results.

The dancers use all sorts of styles, from hip-hop to Hula to traditional Brazilian dance, to get kids smiling.

Vania Deonizio, the group’s founder and president, told The Huffington Post all about it. “Sometimes we have kids that are undergoing chemo and have very low immune system and have to be in isolated areas,” Deonizio explains. “In those cases our Dancin Power teachers then have to wear masks, gowns, gloves to go teach those kids at their bedside.”

Deonizio stressed the importance of involving the kids’ parents, “We believe when a child is sick, it truly affects the entire family,” she says. “By having the whole family, and at times their doctors and nurses too participating, we create community, a very supportive and fun one.”

It seems to be working. “They are laughing, learning something new, having a good time, feeling happy together!”

The families aren’t the only ones seeing benefits, as evidenced by comments from Dr. Mai Ngo of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, one of the facilities Dancin Power visits. Dr. Ngo admitted how good the lessons make the kids feel, and how effective they are particularly for kids recovering from serious injuries.

“Getting them out of bed and into a wheelchair to move their bodies in Dancin Power helps prevent de-conditioning, so their muscles do not get even weaker from immobility,” she explained. “It improves their mood and builds their confidence in the control they have of their own bodies in medical situations when they feel completely out of control.”

I have no problem believing in the positive power of dance for kids. Who doesn’t like to get their ya-yas out? I’m not much of a dancer myself, but every once in a while my son manages to get me to join one of his boogie sessions, and it’s pretty impossible not to have fun. And why should sick children miss out on the mood-enhancing benefits of cutting a rug? Kudos to Dancin Power for making sure they have the chance to do it too.

I also have no problem believing that some of these kids – sick or not – are better dancers than me.