CHILDREN with special needs are getting the chance to show off their best moves thanks to the generosity of a Balcatta dance school owner.
Kate Buchan, owner of Dance Etc Balcatta, said the Dance Starz program was inspired in 2013 when Lachlan Harcourt, a sibling of a student, asked when he could be a part of the annual dance concert.
“He said ‘I just want to dance with other kids like me’,” Ms Buchan said.
“This bright and enthusiastic young boy’s desire to dance on the stage just like his sister could not be ignored.”
Ms Buchan said parents kept asking to be invoiced for the classes, taught by dance teachers and occupational therapists, but she “didn’t have the heart” to charge them.
“I didn’t really feel like they should have to compromise some other therapies just to be able to pay for dance or not be able to do dance because they couldn’t afford it,” she said.
Now the Dance Starz program has a junior and senior class, with more than 45 students from age four to 21.
“We pride ourselves on offering our dance therapy classes to complement any physical therapy students may also be receiving elsewhere,” she said.
“Our junior stars program is half dance class and half gym class, so we have things so they can really develop their motor skills and play at the same time.
“It’s my sole intention to keep the classes free for our members.”
Inglewood resident Louise Wells said her son Callum was in his third year of the Dance Starz program.
“Callum loves dancing; he loves being on stage,” she said.
“The Starz program has given him the opportunity to perform on stage, to his delight on the same stage that our family has seen Grease the Musical and The Lion King. The teachers are occupational therapy students who have an excellent understanding of how to work with children and teenagers with disabilities.”
Nollamara resident Rita Ryan said the program gave her son Jos a confidence boost.
“It is structured in a informal way, fantastic for his muscle control and great for his respiratory system with all the aerobics that it involves,” she said.
“The teacher makes Jos feel cool, special and important.
“She already wants to learn some Auslan signs to be able to communicate with Jos better.”
Ms Buchan said the Starz class developed confidence and communication skills.