OU Students Teach Kids To Express Themselves

OU Students Teach Kids To Express Themselves

This dance class is for the cool kids in Norman.

"It's Good!" said Andrew, one of the cool kids.

These kids stretch, they laugh, and they learn new things.

"Well, we learned the chicken dance!" said Jordyn, another cool kid.

They also make lots of friends.

"Ah, maybe 10!" said Jordyn. "That's how many kids are in my class"

"This is just a fantastic program that they have going on here," said Eric Nichols, Jordyn's father.

What started as the idea of an OU dance major in 2013 has blossomed into something much bigger.

"It's for kids with special needs, not just kids who get services here but really the kids in the community," said Sharla Bardin, the Public Information Officer for the JD McCarty Center.

The program is called the Expressive Movement Initiative or EMI.

A group of OU students teach children with developmental disabilities at the JD McCarty Center. Even Boomer, the OU mascot, gets in on the action from time to time.

They meet once a week learning how to move: whether it's walking, skipping across the mat, or a full dance routine they'll perform in front of a crowd.

"Every semester we end the classes with a recital, so these kids have to get up and perform in front of family and friends," Bardin said.

Emily Taylor, a law student at OU, says IME is changing lives both mentally and physically.

"We had one student who a doctor said she probably wouldn't be able to jump," she said. "Now she's one of our highest jumpers and it's her favorite thing to do in class."

IME has three goals:

One - encourage kids to express themselves in ways they didn't know they could.

Two - eliminate any stigmas in the community

Three - foster a mentor relationship between the students, the kids, and their families.

"Just to show these kids that they have love and support outside of just their immediate family," Taylor said.

Jordyn's father says the kids are learning much more.

"(The OU students) teach the kids that they can be kids, that they can do what they want, that they can do just what every other kid can do," he said.

It's also helping him become even closer to his daughter.

"There's a song at church called Good, Good Father and he really is a good, good father!" said Jordyn.

Please click here if you'd like to learn more about the JD McCarty Center.

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