Jump for Joy
Evanston Dance Ensemble’s Jump for Joy program is a recreational opportunity for children with disabilities to experience the benefits of movement, music, self-expression and performance through a special dance course, which culminates in an informal recital.
This program, originally called Twinkle Toes, was initiated by former Ensemble dancer Julia DeNardo in 2007 and was modeled after a successful New York City program. For the participating children, the classes are a “normalizing” activity — a chance to take the kind of class not usually offered to them. Children in the Jump for Joy program receive individual attention, customized to their particular needs, in an upbeat, inclusive atmosphere.
In Jump for Joy, children with disabilities work with volunteer Evanston Dance Ensemble members, who have been given training in teaching children with special needs. Each participating Ensemble dancer is paired with one or two J4J dancers for the course of six weekly, 45-minute sessions. The young dancers gain confidence by exploring and using their bodies to move and express, and they have an opportunity to enjoy a physical activity in a relaxed, recreational setting. Meanwhile, the volunteer teen Ensemble dancers/mentors have an opportunity to expand their knowledge, interest and mindset about dance beyond their usual routine of classes and performances. They gain firsthand experience both in teaching dance and interacting with children with special needs, while also providing a meaningful service to their community.
More information about our next season of Jump for Joy will be released in early 2020.