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And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance

I smile as I sit back and look at photos of my daughter’s childhoods. Although they are so very different, one a special girl, and one with special needs they are still in many ways so much alike. Both love to dress up, paint their nails, listen to music, and both love to dance.

When Rebeka was younger it was a no brainer that she would take ballet, that was a given, just like she would be a brownie, attend Sunday school, and play with her friends. She would take ballet as all little girls did, I did, my mother-in-law did naturally my daughter would. We bought the black leotard, pink ballet slippers, pink tights and plenty of scrunches to pull the hair tight and back. She danced off and on for years finally ending up studying jazz with a private instructor, she never was a very “disciplined ballerina” and jazz fit her much better. I used to drag Ainsley when she was but a wee babe to all of Rebeka’s classes and as she grew older I wished that she too could dance but understood that would be impossible with her disabilities.

The hardest part of the year for me was Rebeka’s end-of-year recital. I was so proud as I watched her dance with joy and then saddened and wished that my little Ainsley could be up on that stage too. Through the years we attended many recitals and had the bittersweet feeling of joy for one child and sorry that another would not know that simple joy.

But then Becky, Ainsley’s Physical Therapist told us about a program at Maryland Youth Ballet that she was working on. Becky along with MYB’s Jennifer Cox, a 30-year dance professional, who was inspired by her own granddaughter’s desire to dance despite a disability, developed a program to allow children to enjoy the beauty of music and motion, and gain the benefits of the physical therapy.

Becky described the program and told us that at Maryland Youth Ballet’s new Silver Spring dance facility a state-of-the-art overhead track system was created which allows each dancer to participate without the aid of a volunteer. She then described that dancers are suspended with the aid of a vest sling and attached to a traverse rail system hung in the ceiling giving the dancers complete range of motion. My goodness how I just knew Ainsley would love this!

After listening to Becky talk about the program I immediately jumped at the chance to enroll Ainsley in the summer classes. Every week when Ainsley would go to her ballet class I pulled out the same outfit that Rebeka used to wear so many years ago, the black leotard, black tights and pink ballet slippers. Ainsley loved going to class, and she loved “dancing” in the track system. And for one brief moment I remember the recitals and closed my eyes and “saw” my little Ainsley and she was dancing!

About shelley

Shelley Kramm is the founder and editor of I'm Still Standing and The DC Ladies. Learn more about her and her inspirational family here and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and on

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  1. What an amazing amazing program!! I'm going to pass this blog post along to my mother. She works with special needs children and adults. She will just love this idea. Thank you for posting this.

  2. I am so happy I read your blog today. Inspiring is the word I'd choose. Thank you…

  3. What wonderful photos and what a great story. Your heart must have flown with Ainsley when she was suspended in the air. How lucky to have found a program like that for your daughter.

  4. What a great program! So happy that your sweet Ainsley was able to experience it!

  5. My mother also works with special needs kids and so will be getting sent a copy of this blog!What an amazing program, and what beautiful daughters you have:) I can't wait to enroll my two girls in dance. Of course as the oldest is 18mos and the youngest 8 weeks, we just might stick with kitchen dancing for now:)

  6. What a touching post! So happy that Ainsley was able to dance! Love her name!!!

  7. that is so incredible! Great pictures and what a great program!

  8. wow!! how great, I'm glad that you found something to make Ainsley even more happy.

  9. What a beautiful story!!

  10. Both of your girls are so beautiful! What a wonderful program!
    How proud you must be of your daughters!

  11. Beautiful photos and equally beautiful story! Your girls are breathtakingly beautiful!

  12. What a wonderful program! Seeing your daughter suspended, dancing, brought tears to my eyes!

  13. I am so very touched by this story and the pictures.
    You are so blessed to have such wonderful daughters.
    As a mom myself, this is so very touching.

  14. Touching..What a great story and what an amazing program….

    God bless :)

  15. What an amazing program! You brought a tear to my eye…beautiful daughters! I'm so glad your Ainsley got to dance! I can only imagine the joy that filled your heart that day…

  16. What a wonderful program, and beautiful photos of your daughter too.

    Thanks for visiting my wee corner of the blog world today too.

  17. I love your pictures and your blog design! I'm here via the comment you left on my blog and SITS. Thanks for the comment and for visiting; I will stop by often.

    What a wonderful, touching story! :) It's awesome that there are such programs out there. It makes me realize how often I take simple things for granted that I'm able to do daily.

    Happy Thursday! :)

  18. what a fantastic program!! WOW!
    I was a bit of a dance lover growing up so I know how special it is to participate. How lovely to hear that your daughter got the chance after all, that must have been so fun for her.

    You look like you have an amazing family, you should be proud. Thanks for coming by my blog and leaving the links! Have a wonderful day 😀

  19. i have to say my motto has always been
    there is always time to dance
    so i am so glad that you see it that way too
    we all can dance in our own special ways
    eyes closed and swaying in our chairs
    fingers tapping to that beat on the steering wheel
    you know that twirly moment in your head that feels like a fantasy
    i am thrilled you got to share that with both of your daughters

  20. Hi Shelley,
    It's so nice to meet you! I really appreciate the sweet B-day wishes and kind visit to my blog. You're always welcome! I hope to see you again soon.

    Yours blog is so pretty and I adore your precious button! It is so nicely done and full of inspiration here. You are a very special and kind hearted Mom as well. The world needs more wonderful people like you. Kudos!

    Have a blessed day my friend.
    ~Warmly, Melissa :)

    PS Your daughters are gorgeous!

  21. beautiful and inspiring! Sharing your blog with friends.

  22. Shelley, that was such a wonderful post! Your daughters are both so lucky to have such a wonderful mother.

    When you have a minute, stop by my blog because I have an award for you…

  23. Goodness me, what a beautiful post. You have a lovely family.

  24. all i can say is.. you are inspiring… Natalee

  25. Thanks for coming back by and following along on my blog Shelley! I'll do the same. I just love it here. I'm grabbing your oh so adorable button as well.

    Have a wonderfuly blessed day my friend.
    ~Warmly, Melissa :)

    PS Isn't ETSY fun!

  26. your girls are both beautiful. How wonderful that you discovered this program!

  27. Oh, that is WONDERFUL! I also understand what it's like to have a disability. I'm all for anything that will make children's lives(with or without a disability) easier and more enjoyable.

    I'm sure Ainsley has a ball.

  28. Both your daughters are BEAUTIFUL!

  29. What a wonderful inspiration to hear of this program. You are so blessed to have such lovely and strong girls. They are both so beautiful.

  30. I'm near tears (of joy) after reading your story. Thank goodness there are programs available for our special needs kids that give them the ability to dance and soar too!