When Kim Smith couldn’t find a dance class that was a “great fit” for her 7-year-old autistic daughter, Reagan, she took matters into her own hands. The North Carolina mom decided to start A Chance to Dance, a studio for children with special needs.
“It was kind of heartbreaking as a parent to have a child with special needs who didn’t fit in at the very place where she should fit in,” Smith tells the Today show in the clip above.
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She began teaching in 2015, using space at Miss Donna’s School of Dance in Charlotte, N.C., and starting with seven students in her class. Today, she has 10 volunteers teaching 34 students, and has even expanded into another studio.
The class caters to students with a variety of conditions, including autism, Down syndrome, blindness, dwarfism, amputations, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, and tailors the dance to each student’s ability.
“I’m a little person, but when we get on that stage, we’re all the same,” dancer Ava Whipple told Today. “It makes me feel extremely happy and big.”