Photos by Hiroko Shono/Hiroko Photography
A Dancing Dream dancer and student volunteers perform in Bayside.

After months of rehearsals, a group of talented kids and teens took center stage in Bayside earlier this month to perform for the local community.

Dancing Dreams, a Bayside-based nonprofit organization, and student volunteers from Bayside High School collaborated to present “Just Dance!” at Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center on May 4.

The nonprofit organization, whose mission is to help children and teens with physical or medical disabilities reach their fullest potential, was founded in 2002 by Joann Ferrara, a pediatric physical therapist. Since its inception, the group has grown from five dancers to over 100.

The Dancing Dreams Dancers took the spotlight at the event, which was attended by over 150 guests, to share in the universal delight of dance and raise awareness for the organization.

Students from Bayside High School enrolled in the nonprofit’s citywide Leadership Program worked one-on-one with each dancer, helping him or her reach their fullest potential at weekly classes held in the area. The teen helpers also put on performances of their own at the fun event.

“The intention for creating this show was to have my students witness what is possible, even through seeming limitations, when someone has a dream,” said Carllie Jaxen, Youth Development Coordinator at Bayside High School. “I had many students tell me that they were honored to have been a part of this awesome event. One student who was invited by someone in my SPARK Program asked me if he could sign up because he wanted to be a part of something like this. That really touched me.”

Dancing Dreams welcomes any child who is physically or medically challenged with a dream to dance. Classes are adapted so that each child can participate to the best of his or her ability, and no child is every turned away for an inability to pay.

“The event was particularly meaningful as it provided the Bayside High School students with an opportunity to see the impact of their fundraising and it afforded our dancers the opportunity to be inspired by the dances performed by the Bayside High School students,” said Joann Ferrara, executive director and founder of Dancing Dreams. “It was a successful collaboration between two local programs and a wonderful way to bring together our communities.”

“Michal belongs to a community of dancers who are accepting, motivating, friendly, and fun,” one parent shared on the nonprofit’s website. “Every child should have an opportunity to ‘belong’ like this.”

See more photos from the event below. To learn more about the nonprofit, visit the Dancing Dreams website.

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