BETHANY — Mindy Cash had undergone numerous reconstructive surgeries by the time she was 9, and her self-confidence was low. Her mother placed her in dance class in hopes of building her self-esteem.
Today, Cash is a special education teacher at The Children's Center and is enriching the lives of the patients through dance. Not as a performer, but as a teacher.
“Point, flex, point, flex,” Cash reminded her class members during a recent rehearsal. “I know personally how much music and dance can positively influence a child's life.”
A different plan
Cash has danced competitively at local and national competitions, even performing with a dance group in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. She recently started a weekly dance class for patients at The Children's Center.
“My hope is by starting this program, we can enrich these girls' lives by giving them the opportunity to dance and express themselves through movement,” she said.
Although Cash would have liked to start the program when she began at The Children's Center 10 years ago, God had a different plan, she said. She said all factors had to be in place to achieve the results only God can provide.
“From the donated funds that purchased the dancer's leotard and shoes to the staff that assists with the program, it has come together with results that can only come from God above,” she said.
Factors included a donor whose gift purchased tutus, ballet shoes, gym bags and leotards.
Balloons and promises
Cash has chosen two songs for the girls' performance at the end of each class semester, which lasts for six weeks.
For the ballet piece, she chose “Balloons” by Buddy Castle. Cash brought six balloons for dress rehearsal. Each balloon color coordinates with a dancer's leotard.
“I Am a Promise” is a classic Sunday school song Cash learned as a child. She calls it the perfect fit for the tap piece.
“Its lyrics encourage the dancer to be who God wants them to be and to listen to His voice. I love for the dancers to know and feel that they are a great big bundle of potentiality,” Cash said, using a phrase from the song.
Wooden panels were adhered to each dancer's wheelchair by the maintenance department as a way for the dancers to hear their shoes when they tap.
It is a collaborative effort that began with one dancer's dream to build confidence for others the way dance did for her as a child.
“That was an awesome rehearsal. You girls are going to be so good. I am very proud of you,” she told the students.
Melissa Richey is communications and media coordinator at The Children's Center.