Assist. Arts & Culture Editor
This Saturday at the Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center, the public will have the opportunity to witness something truly extraordinary while simultaneously helping out a worthy cause.
On February 22nd, at 7:00 p.m. in the Winter Center, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Encore Dance Center, and Millersville University are sponsoring a benefit performance called “Be the Change” will take place. The performance will benefit children with developmental needs, and will include many dances performed by both Millersville students and professional dancers.
The benefit will feature dance styles including contemporary, Irish, jazz, ballet, lyrical, tap, and hip-hop, and will feature dancers from Millersville organizations like Essence, Expressions, FUSION, Footprints, and the university Dance team.
Local students from Encore Dance Center, and Hooley School of Irish Dance will also perform, as well as professional dancers from NetCo Dance Company.
Together, these groups will convene to raise money to help students like Max Smith, a four-year-old boy with autism who benefits from the speech and occupational therapies that he receives at school. Max’s mother, Greta Smith, works at Encore Dance Center. When Alvina Kline, the center’s artistic director, was looking for a beneficiary for Encore’s annual performance, Greta suggested Max’s preschool. When Kline inquired about reserving the Winter Center for the fundraising event, Melissa Wardwell, interim director of experiential learning and career management, suggested that Millersville University get involved. Out of this simple inquiry bloomed the culturally rich benefit that will soon take place.
Tickets for this event are available to the public and cost $10 for general admission, and $5 for Millersville Students and children. Tickets can be purchased online at MUTicketsOnline.com, at the SMC Ticket Office, by calling the Ticket Office, or at the Ware Center Box Office. Any remaining ickets will be sold prior to the show at the door.
All of the money raised will go towards the Excentia’s S June Smith Center to support both educational and therapeutic services for children with developmental needs.
The S. June Smith Center runs four early childhood centers, two in Ephrata, One in Mount Joy, and one in Lancaster City. In 2013 it formed a joint venture with Excentia, and it, alone with the other centers, gives preschoolers the opportunity to be with peers who have developmental delays and other challenges.
These centers are described as “reverse mainstream,” meaning that while they are designed for children with developmental needs, other children are welcome to attend. The peer-to-peer coaching occurs naturally, so children who struggle to form relationships can learn those skills along with communication skills, through interactions with children around the same age.
These centers give more than fifty children the chance to interact with students in an appropriate manner as well as build relationships with other students. It helps these students to see peers who have differences, and recognize and appreciate the individuality of one another. These centers also give students the ability to get their preschooling and therapy all in one place.