This week on the Empowering Ability Podcast we welcome two sisters, Jade and Mallory Ryan, founders of The Dance Ability Movement; a dance class for kids of all abilities.
Mallory, the older of the sisters started dance classes as a child in their hometown of Milton, Ontario. Jade always looked up to her big sister Mallory growing up, so naturally, she soon followed in her sister’s footsteps with dance as well. The sisters loved it and always felt like they were welcome and had a sense of belonging in the dance studio. Jade reflects on her childhood and shares how the first duet that her and Mallory did together was to the song titled, “sisters are doing it for themselves”, which has certainly foreshadowed their journey as entrepreneurs together.
So, what inspired their entrepreneurial journey?
The sisters were moved when they saw a video of a mother who started a ballet class just so her two daughters (one daughter with cerebral palsy), could dance together on stage. This touching story and word spreading that other kids were having to leave their dance classes because the studios couldn’t fit their needs, inspired the sisters to do something. As a result, The Dance Ability Movement was born.
The Dance Ability Movement has since partnered with 6 dance studios in the Greater Toronto Area to offer Dance Ability Movement classes – a dance class for kids of all abilities. Jade and Mallory provide training to dance instructors, pair dancers with a volunteer buddy (typically high school aged students), include the dancer’s family in the experience, and have an Occupational Therapist (OT) support the dancers to fully participate in the class.
A lot of Jade and Mallory’s efforts are spent advocating and educating within the dance studios to create an inclusive culture. The dance studio is a place where the sisters have always felt they belong, and the purpose of the Dance Ability Movement is to make sure kids of all abilities feel that same sense of belonging. The sisters are quickly learning that the sense of belonging their dancers are feeling inside the studio is having a positive ripple effect, spilling over into other areas of the child’s life and social settings, such as in school and they couldn’t be happier about it!
There are many layers of benefits that Jade and Mallory have observed, with over 250 dancers participating in the Dance Ability Movement classes. Dancers are not only improving their physical health (mobility, strength, balance), but they are also finding a community of belonging, forming their identity as individuals, building friendships, learning to express themselves through gestures and actions (not just words), and building confidence. Participant’s families are sharing that these newfound skills and confidence the dancers are building in the studio are showing up other areas of life, such as in the classroom.
Dance is the one thing that kids are now asking to go to – unlike some of the other types of programs they are involved in. Mallory shares, “Inclusion is everyone’s responsibility – we need to see people for people.”
Mallory is absolutely right.
The exciting and refreshing thing about the model of belonging that Jade and Mallory have discovered with the Dance Ability Movement, is that it is transferrable to other recreational activities and crafts that a child may want to participate in. This type of model fosters health and happiness while the child is free to explore and play in a safe space. It instills a great sense of belonging and nurtures personal growth and development in all areas of a child’s life.
and Mallory have blazed a path and together we can work on building
this model into other areas of a child’s life so that they too can look
forward to going to classes that help empower their lives.
Thank you for sharing your inspirational story Jade and Mallory.
What you will learn in this episode:
– Hear Jade & Mallory’s story of entrepreneurs creating a sense of belonging
– Learn the model of inclusion that they have built inside the dance studio
– Learn the key success factors Jade and Mallory use to build an inclusive culture
– Learn the many benefits the dance students of all abilities are receiving
How to contact Jade & Mallory Ryan:
Location: Milton, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Video Links: Click Here
Love & Respect,
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