Kathleen Downes Performing

Kathleen Downes

Kathleen Downes, Dancing Dreams alumnus and 2015 graduate of the University of Illinois, performed a solo dance at our performance to her original essay, “Thursday’s Dreamers.”

As a young woman born with severe cerebral palsy, I never would have guessed that dancing was in the cards for me. However, joining this great group of people was instantly captivating and soon, I embraced the arts in a new capacity ordinarily assumed to be reserved for my non-disabled peers… Most of us have never walked a step, but every Thursday, we dance, learning about expression beyond a pre-conceived notion of “the perfect body."

Dancing Dreams is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a three fold mission:

  • to provide dance classes and performance opportunities for children ages 3-21 with medical or physical challenges
  • to enhance leadership skills and self esteem of teens ages 13-18
  • to provide community outreach and education in the area of disability awareness and tolerance

Classes are held weekly in our three locations. They are designed to allow our dancers to experience the joy of dance regardless of their physical ability. The year ends with an Annual Performance, an onstage celebration of the achievements of our students.

Teen volunteer "Helpers" are enrolled in the Dancing Dreams Leadership Program. Helpers attend workshops to enhance leadership skills and are paired with a dancer whom they assist at weekly classes and performances.

Through community outreach, especially to elementary school children, we aim to increase awareness of and tolerance for those with physical challenges.