Darby’s Dancers is inspired by Darby Jones from Alabama, seen in this photo from the Darby’s Dancers website. Jones, who suffered from Down syndrome, died of leukemia in 2013. The dance program for children with special needs continues as her legacy.
By AMANDA GIBB
Pegasus Dance Studios in East York has partnered with Darby’s Dancers, an international non-profit organization, to deliver a dance education program for children with special needs.
The program has yet to launch at the studio, but mother and daughter Jane Davis-Munro and Lara Munro hope to launch in late October or early November.
“As soon as we have an interest and eligible students, our plan is to start with private sessions with interested students… Once we have a few students doing that and we get to know them and their abilities and skills. strengths, we can put them in a class and in a group, ”said Munro, head of customer service and studio.
Darby’s Dancers was created by Darby Jones parents in Huntsville, Alabama to carry on their daughter’s legacy and love of dancing. Darby was an avid dancer who suffered from Down syndrome and died in 2013 of leukemia.
“His parents decided to create a foundation to open it up to all children of all abilities so that they could continue to dance. This movement was started in the United States, and we are the first Canadian studio to undertake this project… once they made it an international program, ”said artistic director Davis-Munro.
Darby’s Dancers is a program offered free of charge to parents or guardians.
“We would fund, and any private person or business would fund that to make it available to parents. So the cost of the class, any dancewear, any costume, would be covered by donations or fundraisers, ”said Davis-Munro.
Davis-Munro said she first heard about Darby and his story through her involvement in More Than Just Great Dancing and Youth Protection Advocates in Dance organizations.
“Their theories, their mission and their vision seemed to match what we were doing here, so we signed up and got coached, and that’s when I first heard of The Darby’s Dancers. . At a conference about five years ago, I spoke to Darby’s mother, ”she said.
Davis-Munro said now was not the right time for Darby’s mother to start the program in Canada, so she waited and stayed in touch until the time was right.
Munro said dancing in the community is important for children.
“For children to have a physical and creative outlet, we know it is so important for their physical, mental and emotional health, as well as for their development as creative thinkers and whole people,” said Munro.
She said what kids learn in the studio goes beyond dancing – they learn skills like teamwork, cooperation, musicality, and boost their self-esteem.
“This is why we think dance and arts education is so important to our children… We are delighted to be back in person with our students,” said Munro.
Davis-Munro and Munro are looking for their first group of students interested in dancing and people or businesses who are interested in making a donation to help keep the program running.
Davis-Munro and Munro have also completed a certification program called Rhythm Works.
“This is an integrated dance program for children with diverse abilities and needs, and we will be incorporating this training into our Darby’s Dancers program,” Munro said.
Pegasus Dance Studios is located at 361 Glebeholme Blvd. in a building attached to the United Church of Kimbourne Park.
To learn more about Darby’s Dancers and Pegasus Dance Studios, visit https://www.pegasusstudios.com