Save the next dance for me

dance teacher helps seniors

Adapted from the Mission City Record

Level 3

Lee Kwidzinski wanted to help her father.  Since she is a dance teacher,
she decided to teach him to dance.  Later, when he moved into
the Pleasant View Care Home in Mission, she decided to teach
the other residents as well.

Read the PDF. Try the exercise.

This class is different
Then Kwidzinski had an idea.
Three years ago she added children to the dance class in the care home.
She thought the children and elders could learn together.

Lessons to learn
Seven Grade Two and Three girls at E.S. Richards Elementary School (ESR)
came to the new class.  Two other schools had also been part of the program.
Starting in January, the ESR girls and elders learned ballet and movement.
The children had not done ballet before coming to this program.
Once a week for an hour, the children and elders worked together.
Before each class, the girls went in to say good morning to each resident.
Then the residents worked on strength and balance.
The girls worked on dance skills.

Children’s ideas
Kwidzinski said young children are more open with seniors.
These children don’t have the same ideas about age as other people do.
Kwidzinski asked the girls, “…how old is old?”  They had interesting answers.
One of the girls said 30.  Another said 100.

Photos courtesy of Adrian MacNair
Young dancer and elder exercising with wheelchair.

The best lessons
The best part for the elders was working with these young people.
Some of the youngsters were a little afraid at first.
They thought they might hurt the seniors.
The girls learned about empathy and compassion.
And they learned to understand their elders.
The children could not learn these things sitting at a desk.
The classes were full of joy.
In the six months, deep bonds developed between the students and elders.

How did the elders dance?
The elders danced and moved to the best of their ability.
Many seniors did the exercises from wheelchairs.
Others stood with a little help from the girls.  Some elders just swayed
to the music.  Some seniors did exercises at the ballet barre.
Some young dancers used the wheelchairs or walkers as ballet barres.
Just like the elders.

Interest in the program
The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) is making a film about the program.
Three years ago, Shelley Canning saw the elders and children in a concert
at a theatre.  Canning, a nursing instructor at UFV, knew the program
was very special.  Now she wants to write about the program
in a science journal.

You can dance
Local community centers have dance programs for all levels and interests.
You can learn ballroom dancing, square dancing, belly dancing and more.
Shall we dance?

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