This year, Southern California Ballet applied for a grant from the Rancho Bernardo Community Foundation for seed money to initiate the creation of an inclusive, 6-week adaptive dance education program for adults with special needs in Rancho Bernardo.
We are very excited to announce that, at the Foundation’s Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon on Friday, November 16, we were granted $8,000 to initiate the program. It has been a dream for Martha Leebolt, SCB Co-Artistic Director, since her high school years when she started a dance program for children with special needs at Southern California Ballet.
The Rancho Bernardo Community Foundation will be one of the first foundations in the nation to endorse an adaptive dance program tailored exclusively to adults with special needs. The grant will help lead the promotion of an impactful and frequently overlooked facet of needs within the adult special needs community. Per a 2016 scientific review, fewer than 10% of adults with special needs met the minimum guidelines for physical activity. While children with special needs receive physical education both in school and extracurricular programs, the transition into adulthood often entails the loss of accessible physical exercise programs. This is one of several compelling reasons that SCB decided to direct its new program specifically to adults.
Southern California Ballet identified this relatively unrecognized issue in our community thanks to advice and help from Julia Feth, the mother of SCB alumna Sarah McDowell, who has been a close friend of Martha’s for many years and is very involved in the special needs community.
Because of the grant from the Rancho Bernardo Community Foundation, participation in the program will be free to adults with special needs ages 18-55 who are residents of Rancho Bernardo, as well as their caregivers, and open to non-residents for a small fee.
The adaptive dance program benefits participants by offering a more fun, expressive outlet for physical activity which can accommodate those whose disabilities prevent participation in many other physical activities. Multiple studies have shown that adults with developmental disabilities have preventable mortality rates four to six times higher than non-disabled adults. The benefits of adaptive dance programs include improvements to coordination/control, body awareness, balance, interpersonal skills, and self-confidence.
Southern California Ballet will be launching its new program in the beginning of 2019, so look out for more information in the coming months.