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March 10, 2014

J.D. McCarty Center dance group helps kids express themselves

NORMAN — They giggle, they glide, they spin and they shine.

They are students with a lot of heart, a positive attitude, plenty of patience and poise and a deep desire to dance.

They are the members of the creative movement dance group at the J.D. McCarty Center for children with developmental disabilities in Norman.

The center hosts the dance classes for children with special needs, ages 4 to 21, as an opportunity for kids to learn about dance, work on physical movements and have an outlet to express themselves. The eight-week classes started in February and concludes with a recital in April.

The program is a great opportunity for kids with disabilities to boost their confidence, enhance social skills and build muscle strength, said Beth Morton, director of physical therapy at the center.

“Movement is crucial for development,” Morton said. “That’s how kids explore and learn.”

Students from the University of Oklahoma lead the classes, and the dance moves can be adapted to accommodate a child’s ability level. Students partner with one child and work with that child in each class. A therapist from the center also is present in classes.

The creative movement dance group started last fall for inpatients and outpatients at the center, which specializes in the care and treatment of children with developmental disabilities.

Emily Scheele, a sophomore at OU, leads the creative movement dance group and was instrumental in organizing the dance classes at the center.

Scheele said she was motivated to offer the classes because of her love for dance and a desire to work with kids with disabilities. The Colorado native has been a dancer since she was 3, and the majority of her training is in ballet.

Also, while in high school, she served as a math tutor for students with disabilities.

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