National Dance Day is celebrated on the last Saturday in July. The day was established to recognize the positive benefits of dancing. For five years a special education teacher at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital has been teaching patients the art of dance.
Each year Mindy Cash forms a dance troupe called, “Grace Dance.” Mindy started Grace Dance as a way to build confidence in the patients and show them anything is possible.
“My mother placed me in dance when I was younger to build my self-esteem. I had undergone numerous reconstructive surgeries due to a facial tumor. Dance was an outlet for me. It provided a positive environment allowing me to express myself. I want to give the same opportunity to the patients at the Hospital,” said Cash. “Dance is a fun way to help individuals achieve emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration. It helps to increase muscular strength, coordination, mobility and decreased muscular tension.”
The patients spend weeks learning dance moves and rehearsing their routine. Junior, a patient at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital has participated in Grace Dance for two years. Seeing him move and dance with the music has been a wonderful experience for his mother.
“Junior really enjoys Grace Dance. He loves music and moving to the rhythm. He has a drum at his bedside he beats when music is on,” said Junior’s mother, Sylvia Ndagire. “He has benefited so much from dance. He loves to be around other patients and part of a group. Seeing him doing things other kids are doing makes me so happy.”
The patients have participated in numerous live performances at the Hospital and at dance competitions. These performances showcase the hard work they have put into their routine.
“Seeing the dancers perform on stage and having other dancers cheering them on backstage is such a great feeling. They receive
so much support from dance teachers and studio directors in our state,” said Cash.
Mindy hopes her work teaching dance to the patients will inspire others to try dance.
“Don’t let anyone tell say you can’t dance or be a part of a dance program. Dance is an art of expression for everyone. There is no prerequisite. Everyone should have access to it,” said Cash.“
To learn more about the Hospital or to support activities like Grace Dance please, click here.