Young Irish dancers teach moves to adults with disabilities in honor of St. Patrick's Day

BELTSVILLE - Gaelic music fills the room, toes are tapping, faces are smiling.  It's Irish dancing day at the non-profit Compass, and the adults it serves couldn't be more excited.

Compass helps adults with intellectual disabilities and provides various programs to allow them to live on their own and find jobs.  Last year, they added an arts program, including painting, sculpting, and dancing.

"We find that art doesn't know ability or disability," said Ande Kolp, executive director at Compass.  "It helps foster self esteem, positive expression of emotion, and exploration of emotion."

In honor of St. Patrick's day, Compass invited students from the Hunt School of Irish Dance to teach the adults a few moves.  The girls were excited to share their love for Irish dancing.

"At school I'm a shy person, but when I dance I feel like I can be anybody I want to be," said Alli Chervenak, 12.

"You don't see many people doing Irish dancing, it's just something different to do," said Melina Cramer, 11.

After showing the class a few steps, the girls put on their costumes and showed off some more advanced moves.  The adults watched in awe, clapping their hands and recording the girls' amazing talents on their cell phones.  Programs like this are meant to be more than just entertainment.

"We want to facilitate positive growth in people," said Kolp.  "If we can do things like this and influence a person’s life positively in some small way, we just get a huge amount out of that," 

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