Area kids ‘Jump for Joy’ over dance pro­gram

North Penn Life - - FRONT PAGE - By Mag­gie Wurst 21st Cen­tury Me­dia News Ser­vice

Blue Bell area res­i­dent Mad­die Wingerter loves to dance.

“She loves to dance and sing around the kitchen, so we wanted her to have an op­por­tu­nity to do that with other kids with sim­i­lar in­ter­ests,” said Mad­die’s fa­ther, Brian Wingerter.

Mad­die, along with 10 of her peers, was en­rolled in a pilot class for chil­dren with Down syn­drome this sum­mer.

The pro­gram — Jump for Joy — was held at Jane Lopoten’s School of Dance in Lans­dale for four weeks, and has led the way to the class be­ing of­fered full-time as a 33-week pro­gram dur­ing the school’s reg­u­lar sea­son.

“This class was the first of its kind that I have taught, and it was the best de­ci­sion I have ever made,” said stu­dio owner and Jump for Joy co- in­struc­tor Jane Lopoten.

Ac­cord­ing to Lopoten, the idea for the class was started when a mem­ber of the Mont­gomery County Down Syn­drome In­ter­est Group, Judy Maggi, ap­proached her.

“[Judy] wanted to know if I of­fered any classes for chil­dren with Down syn­drome, and I was very hon­est with her about my ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Lopoten. “I said I would need at least six stu­dents, and a few days later, she had found 10.”

Ac­cord­ing to Maggi, it seemed as though there weren’t any stu­dios in the area that of­fered classes for chil­dren with Down syn­drome.

Maggi, also a mother of a child with Down syn­drome, spread the word through­out her in­ter­est group.

Once the idea for the class had been for­mu­lated, Lopoten asked co-in­struc­tor Kris­tine Izak to help her teach the pro­gram.

Ac­cord­ing to Izak, one of her broth­ers had been di­ag­nosed with Down syn­drome, and she also had ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties at dif­fer­ent camps.

"I have an affin­ity fro chil­dren with spe­cial needs, and my other brother works with one of our class­mates, so I had spe­cial in­ter­est in this pro­ject,” said Izak.

Ac­cord­ing to Izak, the classes were not only help- ful in teach­ing the stu­dents dance tech­nique, but also worked on strength­en­ing var­i­ous skills they may have trou­ble with mas­ter­ing.

“My brother [John Izak] also works with chil­dren with Down syn­drome, so he gave us a lot of tips and ex­er­cises to do with the chil­dren to help build up their mus­cle tone and bal­ance,” said Izak.

Some of the phys­i­cal skills that Lopoten and Izak hoped to strengthen dur­ing the pro­gram were bal­ance, aer­o­bic move­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Lopoten, many other non-phys­i­cal skills were worked on through­out the four week­class.

“We taught them rou­tines that were repet­i­tive to work with their mem­o­riza­tion skills as well as worked with the al­pha­bet and their fa­vorite col­ors,” said Lopoten. “This helped us get to know them, which I think is very im­por­tant to do as a dance teacher.”

For aid in in­struct­ing the classes, three stu­dent teach­ers worked with Izak and Lopoten through­out the pro­gram.

“Our stu­dent teach­ers worked with each stu­dent, and very of­ten used touch and con­tact to en­force cer­tain dance con­cepts, which is of­ten the best way to com­mu­ni­cate with a stu­dent,” said Izak.

Of­fi­cially be of­fered as a 33week long class start­ing Satur­day, Sept. 14. Un­like the pilot pro­gram, there will be two classes sep­a­rated by age.

Ac­cord­ing to Lopoten, two of the big­gest goals for the classes are to have the stu­dents per­form at a recital at the end of the year as well as be able to move onto tap con­cepts and prac­tice.

Cur­rently, the classes will of­fer be­gin­ning jazz, ballet and hip hop tech­nique as well as creative move­ment work.

Ac­cord­ing to Izak, she and Lopoten are ex­cited to con­tinue this pro­gram in their school.

“Ev­ery lit­tle girl wants to be a bal­le­rina,” said Izak. “I love that now th­ese girls and their par­ents don’t have to give up on that dream,”

For more in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the Jane Lopoten School of Dance or the Jump for Joy pro­gram, visit www.janelopo­ten­dance.com.

Pho­tos by MAG­GIE WURST

Mem­bers and teach­ers of the sum­mer Jump for Joy class at Jane Lopoten’s School of Dance are shown. Seated from left, Jane Lopoten, Abby McEn­tee, Lau­ren Boren­stein, Is­abelle Maggi, Rebecca Valen­tine and Kris­tine Izak. Back­ground, Marissa Chirico, Jef­fery Perl­mut­ter, Mad­die Wingerter, Dana Bo­rio, Abby Citro, Dana Me­oli and Elayna Mi­lano.

Dana Bo­rio, fore­front, and other young­sters go through an ex­er­cise dur­ing Jump for Joy dance class.

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