Monday, October 17, 2016

The power of dance

Vania Deonizio loves to dance. She's sharing that love with kids who are hospitalized or chronically ill through a program called Dancin Power based in Oakland California. This uplifting program gives free dance lessons right in the hospital, adapting the movement to accommodate the kids' restrictions. The non-profit organization believes that everyone can dance! The kids agree.

Dancin Power got its start in 2006. Typically, the bright, energetic dances focus on Hula, traditional Brazilian dance, and hip hop, full of spirited music and fun movements. Classes may be held in the patients’ hospital rooms, in groups or individually. If the child has a low immune system or other frailties, the dance instructors may wear masks, gown, and gloves to the bedside and deliver the lesson right there.

Loved ones are welcome to join in. "By having the whole family, and at times their doctors and nurses too participating, we create community, a very supportive and fun one,” Deonizio said. She loves to see the child's laughter and joy come out through participating in the program.

“For that moment, the patients and their families are able to interact with one another in a non-medical way,” Deonizio told The Huffington Post in an email. “They are laughing, learning something new, having a good time, feeling happy together!”

The doctors and hospital staff are thrilled with the program. Dance, in whatever form is medically safe for the child, improves muscle strength, endurance, and mobility. Plus it boosts the child's mood through the sheer joy of self-expression.

Deonizio feels the benefit too. “Every time I teach I learn something new from my students/patients,” she told HuffPost, “...being completely present, appreciate the moment, have gratitude and never give up.”

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