A popcorn factory outside of Chicago may not be the place you’d expect to find a group of dance instructors working out routines and laughing excitedly across tables. But that’s what happened. For two perfect days, dance instructors from different parts of the country gathered at Double Good to learn how to better serve kids with special needs in their communities.
It all started with you…
It’s through your purchases of Double Good popcorn that this amazing day came to be. Because of your generosity, The Double Good Kids Foundation was able to bring six dance teachers together to certify them to work with kids with special needs in their communities through Wingman for Dance, Rhythm Works Integrative Dance, and the National Dance Foundation. They’ll be following in the freshly made footsteps of instructors and studios that have already begun offering curriculum for kids with special needs.
Tricia Gomez is the Global Director of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance, a program that encourages skill development and self-empowerment for kids with special needs by providing inclusive dance classes and instructor training. “I help teachers open their doors to students of all abilities,” Tricia said.
“I teach them how to work with students, with their parents, with their therapists. We see kids who weren’t able to walk down the stairs. Now they’re just easily going down the stairs. Simple, basic things that most people take for granted—they’re achieving these things now.”
Ian Hockley is the founder and project director of Dylan’s Wings of Change. That organization quickly grew to include Wingman, a youth leadership program designed to foster inclusive communities for all kids.
“Dylan’s Wings of Change is a foundation dedicated to my son Dylan. He was six years old, and he was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook back in December 2012. We started the foundation because we wanted to help other children like Dylan. He had autism. He was a very shy little boy. He communicated in his own way, so it was often difficult for people to understand what he was saying, and he couldn’t always understand what they were asking him to do. So, he would find himself excluded. But if another child, or maybe an adult would take the time to really listen to him, then he could get involved.”
Ian explains, “let’s help other foundations that want to help children who are struggling with these conditions get involved in activities, and get so much more out of life.”
As Wingman took off in schools, Jessica Michaels, a dance instructor noticed a need for this type of training within the dance community. She connected with Ian Hockley, and together they launched Wingman for Dance.
Jessica explains: “Wingman for Dance provides tools and activities for students to experience the feeling of being empathetic, understanding, and teaches strengths and weaknesses. Wingman for Dance helps demonstrate through experiential learning that we can all be more inclusive and understanding of other people. When you put both of our programs together, you get all vantage points of how to really, truly become an inclusive studio.”
The dance instructors applied for the Rhythm Works and Wingman scholarship through National Dance Foundation’s Chance to Dance Scholarship. The National Dance Foundation works to promote inclusion, kindness and community in the dance world. We want to especially thank Cathy Graziano from NDF. It was a pleasure working with Cathy to interview and identify these instructors.
Congratulations to Rhonda Moore, Ashley Deets, Amy Mullauer Peters, Christina Kistler, Bri Dowell, and Courtney Garcia for completing their Rhythm Works Integrative Dance and Wingman for Dance training. The Double Good Kids Foundation was honored to sponsor your scholarships.
…and that’s just the beginning.
We started the Double Good Kids Foundation to provide the equipment, education, and opportunity for kids with special needs to get all the benefits that sports and extracurricular activities provide. So again, we want to thank you for making that happen. Every time you buy our popcorn, you’re helping kids with special needs, and that’s Double Good.