KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) – A dance center in Kettering is giving children with special needs a chance to compete, and the young dancers are already making a name for themselves.
This is the first year for the special Performance Team at the Funk Lab Dance Center made up of seven to 11 year olds.
“Their disability is nothing other than just the word itself,” said Funk Lab Dance Center owner Kelly Dailey. “They do everything that everybody else does.”
The group practices at the dance center on Monday nights.
“We wanted to give them the opportunity to hit the stage more often and build that confidence,” said Kelly. “It is a group of children that have a wide range of disabilities. We have children on the autism spectrum, children with ADHD.”
Kelly’s 11-year-old son Liam is in the class. “Liam is on the autism spectrum,” said Kelly.
“It’s so energetic, and it gets you moving, and whenever you’re having a bad day, it allows you to put yourself in a good mood,” said Liam Dailey. “I feel great about it because it’s a place where I get to hang out with my friends, and I can dance around which gets me moving, and I like that.”
From the sidelines to the stage, the group was formed to give children of all abilities an outlet.
“There’s a lot of different kinds of hip-hop, and I’ve been doing this for, like, three years, and this is my first year of competition,” said 11-year-old Cooper Schweickart.
“I like that I get to see my friends. I like, you know, just getting to dance a bit and getting to be around kids and stuff,” said nine-year-old Augie Graf.
Hip-hop dancer and student teacher 16-year-old Bryce Dague sometimes helps lead the class.
“For eight years I’ve gained experience, and you get to teach the kids so they can get that same experience,” said Bryce. “They need extra help, and I love helping kids, and they love dancing.”
“I like to move my feet around and make me – I like to feel good about it,” said seven-year-old Logan Hess.
Dancing gives them a voice, and moving becomes their way of speaking.
“We get to show the audience what our dance is,” said 11-year-old Matthew Fry.
Just as impressive as their talent is the special recognition they won at their regional competition.
“I got a little shy at first and nervous, but when I was out there I kept smiling,” said 11-year-old Avery Burke.
Team members were awarded a medal for their routine.
“I was so proud of myself, but more importantly the Funk Lab team, and I was honored to have this,” said Liam.
“I could not even think straight when I saw the medal,” said eight-year-old Elizabeth Hall. “Every time I dance it makes me happy and excited.”
“It’s pretty incredible, and I think that anyone that’s in the audience probably doesn’t know they have special needs and what struggles they go through on a day-to-day basis to make that happen,” said Kelly.
Their next competition is in May in Columbus. They’re heading to Myrtle Beach this summer to compete in nationals.