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Fall 2003 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

"I'm a Ballerina!"

By Al'An Kessler, TCB Children's Specialist, Abilene, Texas

Abstract: A little girl receives dance lessons and achieves her dream of becoming a ballerina.

Key Words: Recreation, leisure, ballet, blind, empowerment

Editor's Note: Al'An shared this story with me back in 1998. I've never forgotten Amanda, who seemed to have a life "blossoming" experience just because someone chose to help her act upon her dream. I hope that wherever Amanda is now, she knows that there are a lot of people cheering her on as she achieves success after success.

I want to pass on a wonderful story about a girl named Amanda. When I met Amanda she was six and repeating kindergarten. She was tiny for her age, blonde, and had giant crystal-blue eyes. No one figured out that she was having trouble in school the year before because she couldn't see. Turns out, she has multiple vision problems --- ROP, amblyopia, strabismus and retinal scarring. She was painfully shy, afraid to play, afraid to run, and had no friends at all.

The first day I saw her, she stood and watched the other children play at recess while she held onto the fence rail. Her teacher said that's where she spent every recess. Her mom said that she tried to get her daughter to go out and play, but she was afraid because she fell down a lot. We talked for a while, and I asked Amanda about what she wanted. She told me in her whispery, almost not-there voice, that she wanted to be a ballerina. Her mother told me that Amanda went in her room when no one was looking and pretended to dance.

Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) was able to provide dance lessons to this young girl. The only teacher in her town didn't want to take her on and had to be coaxed .hard. After all, the little girl couldn't see and might hold the others back. The almost spoken words were left unsaid that she wasn't the "type" of little girl that usuallytook ballet lessons.

After one lesson, the teacher called, her voice apologetic, and said how delighted she was to have her. After three lessons, her mother called and said, "Amanda has FRIENDS!!!" At her ARD, all the teachers and principal said, "Since she started dance she's like a different child. She runs, and plays and joins in everything; she has such confidence!"

In the spring I was able to see her dance in the ballet performance of Peter Pan. Her blond hair, pulled up on her head, dressed in her satiny pink costume, she twirled and gave me a hug. Amanda said to me, "I'm a ballerina!"

I got to say, "Yes, you are!"


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Last Revision: September 1, 2010