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Northland dance studio helps those with disabilities find their groove

Posted at 4:46 PM, Sep 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-06 17:47:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Finding programs that fit their child's needs was a problem for many parents in the Kansas City metro area. Now, a Northland dance studio is helping people of all ages and abilities find their groove. 

"It's been my dream to do competition after watching Dance Moms," said Abby Kennedy, dancer. 

For Abby Kennedy, her journey started two years ago after her mother caught her twirling around in the basement. When Kennedy was four-years-old, she attended her first dance class, but it wasn't the right fit. 

"The repetitiveness, the lack of attention, the eye contact, all that kind of stuff," said Mindy Kennedy, Abby's mother.

Mindy Kennedy realized Abby needed a special environment after learning she was autistic. Mindy said finding the right studio wasn't easy until three years ago when she found the Sparkle Program

"I felt there was a need for a class that let everyone dance, that gave everyone the opportunity to dance," said Rachel Lawler, Studio Owner, All About Dance by Infinity Dance KC

Rachel Lawler opened Infinity Dance KC four years ago. She grew up dancing and majored in special education. 

"To be able to combine two passions into one has been a really fun adventure for me," said Lawler. 

Lawler's studio offers a range of classes, but the Sparkle Program is unique, teaching kids with adaptive needs. 

"Autism, down syndrome, behavior issues, we have kids in wheelchairs, we have kids in walkers," said Lawler. 

Abby went through the program, gaining the confidence and skill set to compete in a solo competition. 

"I felt really confident and the other people who were competing against me, they were like cheering me on and it makes me feel like I'm one of them," said Abby Kennedy. 

A goal Lawler had for the studio since the beginning. 

Abby Kennedy is now an assistant dance teacher at the studio, something she dreamed of becoming while she was twirling around in her basement. 

Dancers who enroll in the Sparkle Program are anywhere from three to 35 years old. Many of the dancers grow and are able to transition into the regular classes the studio offers.