In honour of National Volunteer Week, check out these reflections from a new volunteer, who recognizes the importance of lifelong learning and the shared interactions between her and her dancing buddies!  Thank you Sandra for all of your hard work and for recognizing the importance of having a FUN and MEANINGFUL activity to keep a well-balanced lifestyle for all!

“My name is Sandra, and I am 22 years-old. I am currently a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Early Childhood Studies program at Ryerson University. For my Senior Internship, students were required to find their own internship site as we had to find a place that would help us foster our teaching philosophy, and suit our needs that we wanted to gain in order to build on experience for our future careers. In high school, I was a part of my high school’s dance program all four years so I developed a love and passion for the art of dance and I wanted to find an internship that incorporated dance or movement-based activities in their curriculum. Furthermore, I have completed previous placements with students with various physical and cognitive exceptionalities, and fell in love with this field of work. Although, it may be challenging at times – it gave me such a rewarding feeling that I knew I wanted to find something that combined my love for dance, and working with kids with exceptionalities as my Senior Internship site. After doing some research online, The Dance Ability Movement came up. I had contacted The Dance Ability Movement about potentially completing my internship with them in the Fall semester of 2017. Unfortunately, the timing did not work out but I was still offered to volunteer with them on Sundays at the June Lawrence School of Dance. Ever since October 2017, I have been involved with the Dance Ability Movement. I hope to continue volunteering with many dance seasons to come!

There have been a few inspirational stories that I have experienced in the Kids’ Hip-Hop and Tots classes and I feel like they define what the Dance Ability Movement’s buddy system means. The dancers that I have worked with over the course of the dance season have grown such confidence and excitement. A few of the dancers that I’ve worked with started off the classes as shy, and not wanting to participate in class. The kids and I have really build a relationship together – we practically run into each other’s’ arms now when we see each other each Sunday! There was a time in the Tots class, when I walked into the Tots class and one of the dancers said, “Yeah!!!” and ran into my arms! I was so happy as I feel like I have made such a positive impact on him throughout the class, he would sit on the side whenever he did not want to participate so I walked up to him, sat beside him, offered my hand and asked him if he wanted to dance with me. He responded with the same excitement that he greeted me with when I walked in, and my heart melted. He again went off to the side after a few songs, and I asked him to dance with me again and I got the same excited response, and he even held my hands and danced with me! This particular moment sticks out to me because he usually is with another volunteer so I didn’t think that he would have that big of a positive reaction towards me.

Volunteering with the Dance Ability Movement has taught me so much, more than words can ever express. Being in my last year of my undergraduate degree program, I constantly get asked by family members, friends, coworkers, etc., about what my plans are for after graduation and I never know how to answer this question. However, after volunteering throughout this past dance season, I have been introduced to the field of Occupational Therapy. Seeing Jade and Sabrina, and the way they work with the dancers has been inspiring to watch and really has motivated me to look into the field of OT upon graduation. As the dance season continues, I have learned more about OT and I really have gained a passion for OT and now I have an answer for people when they ask me what I want to do after graduation! Without the Dance Ability Movement, I would not have been able to figure this out.

I have loved every part of being involved with the Dance Ability Movement as it has taught me so much about working with people with exceptionalities, and I have been able to be reunite with my love of dance. The sense of community that we have at JLSD has also been such a great part as well, because we are always helping each other out and we are able to bounce positive energy off of each other which always makes it an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.” – Sandra

*Important Disclaimer: stories are shared with the intention of promoting an inclusive society and increasing knowledge and awareness of our community. Views expressed are not representative of all participants and may not be indicative of your potential experiences.