Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dance Steps for Self-Esteem

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dance Steps for Self-Esteem

Article excerpt

After nearly a year's worth of planning, Sarah Bradley, a Ridgewood High School student and competitive dancer and cheerleader, is set to host a cheer clinic for special-needs children, a program she believes will help boost confidence in kids who may not always have the best self-esteem.

"I'm hoping it will become a fun place for them to be themselves," said Bradley, 16, who is a cheerleader with a private club, not the high school squad. "I'm also hoping it will teach them to hold their heads high and believe in themselves, no matter what they do or where they go."

The clinic, scheduled for four Wednesdays in January at Ridgewood High School, is part of Bradley's efforts to achieve her Girl Scout Gold Award. To earn the award, Girl Scouts must develop and carry out an 80-hour community service project.

When it came time to think about her Gold Award, the high school junior said she wanted to merge her love of performance with helping Sharing the Arts, a non-profit organization where she taught dance as a volunteer several years ago.

The Ridgewood-based group uses performing arts programs as a way to enrich the lives of children with mild to moderate developmental delays, such as Asperger's syndrome and genetic anomalies. It was founded in 2005 by local mothers, Karen Sheehy and Liz Grossman.

"We both have daughters with chromosome abnormalities and both girls wanted to learn ballet, but we couldn't find an appropriate program for them so we started one," Sheehy said.

Over the years, the program began to offer classes in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, acting, vocal and musical theater. It also extended into Ridgewood, Glen Rock and Glen Ridge high schools, where there are student clubs that collaborate with the non-profit group, Sheehy said.

After working closely with the organization as a volunteer Bradley said Sharing the Arts "has a special place in my heart. …

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