Local dancers at the Kibler Academy of Hudson have once again teamed up with Youth Challenge for a Day of Dance.
"We are so excited to be back," said Jennifer Kibler, director of Kibler Dance Academy at 180 W. Streetsboro Street in Hudson, to the leaders of Youth Challenge, an organization in Westlake that brings together young people with physical disabilities and teen volunteers who inspire each other through adapted sports, recreation and social growth activities.
"Our dancers had such a great time last year during our Day of Dance with YC that we knew we wanted to make this an annual event," Kibler said. "All the girls were thrilled to see their YC friends from last year and to make new friends this year. We couldn’t think of a better way to spend our Saturday."
Kibler and 29 of her dancers hosted a dance competition Feb. 2 between four teams comprising KDA dancers and YC participants and their volunteers.
"Our participants have been looking forward to this event for a long time," said Mackenzie Vecchio, program managerfor YC. "We were so excited to have the KDA dancers back again."
In hosting the Day of Dance, the KDA dancers were tasked with creating choreography that could be adaptive to various kinds of physical disabilities. The dancers worked with children ages 7 to 16 years with all ranges of physical disabilities, including those who were hearing impaired, wheelchair bound and non-verbal, all of whom danced the day away with smiles.
The day began with the groups creating a team name, making team posters, creating a team cheer, learning their choreography and practicing their moves. Judges awarded prizes for the best performance along with awards for best smile, best costume and highest energy. The competition ended with all four teams coming together in a finale routine. For those lucky enough to be spectators, it was the perfect way to end the day.
When asked what the YC participants would take away from this dance experience, Megan Smith, program and arts director, said:
"These kids now see that no matter your ability, you can still dance and have fun doing it," Smith said.
"I feel very lucky to have the chance to be involved with Youth Challenge," said Peri Gretta a seven-year dancer at KDA. "It was so much fun teaming up with the participants and doing something that we all love. Dance brings people together and this annual event with Youth Challenge proves that."
The Kibler Dancers look forward to seeing their YC friends again next year and it’s safe to say the YC participants do, too.
"I will definitely be back to show off my moves," said Ryan, a 10-year participant at Youth Challenge.