GBA student Olivia Thurman has been recognized in Teacher Magazine March 2016 issue for the free Adaptive Ballet Program she created at GBA (see above).
Thurman was also featured in a Greenwich Time article November 18, 2015, “ADAPTIVE DANCE- THE FREEDOM OF DANCE: Teen creates ballet class for Down syndrome students” by Silvia Foster-Frau, excerpted below.
Nancy Stambaugh, 12, dances when she watches Disney movies. With loose limbs and muscles weaker than the average teen, her Down syndrome doesn’t get in the way of her carefree disposition. But would it get in the way of learning ballet? Her mother, Cathy Stambaugh, worried it would.
“I wanted to see if ballet would help strengthen her … But I thought it might be too regimented for her. And I really didn’t know how they would handle her in class because a typical child would learn faster than Nancy would,” said Stambaugh.
Ballet is known for requiring a high level of strength and precision compared with other types of dance. When Stambaugh began to tentatively inquire about ballet for her daughter, she was surprised to discover there was a class designed especially for students like Nancy.
“I almost dropped to the floor,” said Stambaugh. She and her husband, John Stambaugh, both Greenwich residents, said they’re used to having to fight to get the services and accommodations they need for their daughter. To have this handed to them so readily had never happened to them before.
“She was just so ready for this opportunity and we were feeling like this is such a blessing,” she said.
The Greenwich Ballet Academy offers a weekly adaptive ballet class for students with Down syndrome. The class is taught by two volunteer seniors from the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Olivia Thurman and Lydia Currie.