All 4 dancers with special needs

Special Stars dance program – non-competitive classes that combine jazz and ballet for ages four and up – begins this September.

Special Stars dance instructor Amanda Younger with a student.

Special Stars dance instructor Amanda Younger with a student.

A Cloverdale dance studio is launching a program for dancers with special needs.

All 4 Dance will start its Special Stars dance program – non-competitive classes that combine jazz and ballet for ages four and up – this September.

The program was inspired by dance instructor Amanda Younger’s experience teaching special needs students in a more recreational setting.

Younger, who has taught students with a variety of abilities through Surrey Parks, Recreation and Culture, wanted to create an opportunity for her students to further their love of dance beyond what could be nurtured at the community centre.

She was particularly encouraged by a young girl with Down’s Syndrome who lit up with joy during her weekly ballet lessons.

“She’s been there for two years now and completed children’s level 1, and there was nowhere for her to go,” said Younger.

Younger, who also works at All 4 Dance, approached owner Kym Coats with the idea for Special Stars at the end of May, noting the nearest similar program to her knowledge is in Chilliwack.

They decided to start a combined jazz and ballet class. Younger notes that ballet is great for building strength, while jazz is upbeat and promotes  gross motor skills through movements such as running, skipping and jumping.

Class sizes will be small, with numbers depending on the needs of the students.

Student volunteers from All 4 Dance will help the dancers as personal buddies and group leaders to follow while dancing, the studio said in a media release.

The students will participate in any community events the studio takes part in, and the program will culminate with a year-end recital.

“We’re very excited to be starting this program,” Younger said.

For more about All 4 Dance and the Special Stars program, visit www.all-4-dance.com or call 604-576-8161.

Surrey North Delta Leader