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Group activities; dance for fitness, dance for fun.


Group activities, such as aerobic and square dancing, provide youngsters with severe disabilities opportunities to participate in age-appropriate and culturally popular activities with their peers. Participation can improve how the youngsters view themselves as well as how others view them.

Most youngsters will need a tremendous amount of assistance to take part in these activities. However, with some minor modifications and utilization of the "principle of partial participation," all youngsters can participate in a variety of group activities. In aerobic and square dancing, each youngster performs whatever movements he/she can, then the leader provides assistance as needed to help the participant complete the task.

Through participation in aerobic and square dancing, youngsters can reap the many benefits that recreational activities offer. These include: interaction with peers; exposure to different types of equipment, environments and sounds; the excitement of group activities; and the satisfaction of feeling part of a group.


(1) Have the youngsters spread out facing the leader.

(2) Explain to the group that they will be doing "aerobic dancing," in which they will be moving different parts of their bodies to music.

(3) Choose music that you and the youngsters enjoy, and begin moving to it. Begin with isolated body movements, approximately every 30 seconds.

(4) Start with slower music, then build up to faster music. Finish with slow music.

(5) Assist participants with the movements if necessary.


(1) Explain to the group that they will be learning a "square dance," where they will be dancing with their partner to music. (Ambulatory youngsters can be pushers for youngsters in wheelchairs.)

(2) Choose country music that you and the youngsters enjoy.

(3) Have youngsters in wheelchairs perform a number of movements independently (e.g. bow head, wave to partner, smile or blink at partner, etc.).

(4) Have pushers push wheelchairs into do-si-do's, promenades, swings and other square dancing movements.

(5) Modify well-known square dances (check the library for records), or make up movements to your favorite music.

(6) Assist youngsters with the movements if necessary, but encourage them to move as independently as possible.
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Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:column
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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