Free dance class for special needs kids helps them come alive, instructors honored

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MOORE, Okla. - Children with special needs sometimes have a hard time coming out of their shell.

But two young women in Moore have found a way to make those children shine, by offering free dance lessons for kids with special needs.

"We have quite a few with autism, we have cerebral palsy, we have a brain cancer survivor, which is awesome, and we have a little down syndrome cutie," Dance Instructor Kristen Privette said.

Kristen and her friend Madi Galier, both former NCAA pom girls at OU, teach about a dozen special needs children at The Dancenter in Moore every Tuesday night.

"To see them kind of blossom and to see all of their individual personalities, it's really, it's really something special," Madi said.

The classes are designed with some instruction and some free time, but mostly with lots of fun in mind.

Kristen has been dancing in this same studio since she was just four years old.

"It's incredible! I never thought that I would be in the position to help those that were my age at one time," Kristen said.

Kristen also works as a physical therapy assistant at Children's Hospital, and she knows the hardships families of special needs children face.

That's why she and Madi have been teaching the class free of charge since last summer, and why their boss, Lori Elder, nominated them for a $400 Pay It 4Ward award from First Fidelity Bank.

"They have hospital bills, rehab, surgery, equipment, you name it, and so my biggest goal was to make this class free," Kristen said. "And I don't want them to have to stress about buying shoes or clothes or costumes or anything, so with this money, I'd really love to put this toward their first recital," she said.

"For as much as we're giving these kids, they're giving us way more," Madi said as she smiled with tears in her eyes.

Pint-sized feet, not only dancing to the beat of the music, but also to the beat of their hearts.

Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.

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