Dance program gives kids with cognitive and physical disabilities ‘ConfiDANCE’
Sarah Jacobson worked with an occupational therapist to incorporate exercises used in physical therapy into her classes.
Sarah Jacobson studied dance for most of her adult life, starting in England with a degree in performing arts before immigrating to America. She has worked as a dance instructor in Europe and America. When her 2-year-old son was diagnosed with autism in 2011, Jacobson thought back to a paper she had written in college about dance and autism. It had highlighted how much the sport could help people with cognitive or physical disabilities.
Later that year, Jacobson founded the inclusive program for kids that eventually became ConfiDANCE.
“[ConfiDANCE] gives them a place they belong, more than anything, in a place where they can also do these extra activities,” Jacobson says. “It gives them confidence and a sense of inclusion when they get up on stage and perform the recital with all the other kids.”
Jacobson runs three inclusive or adaptive dance classes at ConfiDANCE, which is offered at Vibe Dance Studio in Middleton. She worked with an occupational therapist to incorporate exercises used in physical therapy into her classes.
“[Some] moves are actually based on hip-hop moves inspired by occupational therapists,” says Jacobson, who teaches a variety of dance styles, including jazz, tap and ballet. “Our challenge is how we make that look like a dance move, where they don’t realize that they’re working on skills.”
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