The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to Dance Unlimited, the hospital’s dance therapy program. Funding will help the program expand into additional parts of northeast Ohio while keeping the program free for families.
In addition, the funds will allow the program to purchase new equipment like sport-style wheelchairs, dance costumes and hand grips to provide kids with quadriplegia, weakness or spasticity some alternative ways to hold pom poms and ribbons.
“I think to be recognized by such a prestigious organization is really, really cool,” said Kellie Lightfoot, PT, MPT, founder of Dance Unlimited and pediatric physical therapist. “They felt it was important to invest in us and provide us with this grant. To me, it confirms that what we’re doing with Dance Unlimited is really making an impact in our community and for our patients and their families. We’re thrilled.”
Since 2007, Dance Unlimited has provided an alternative to typical physical therapy sessions for pediatric patients with a variety of diagnoses, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy (CP), autism, spina bifida, paralysis and pulmonary problems.
A number of kids travel long distances to attend sessions. Moving the program into other areas will help ease some travel burdens.
“We have kids that are traveling from two hours south of us,” said Lightfoot. “We have kids coming from the Cleveland area, and we have kids coming from the Youngstown area. Our hope is to expand this program into some of the other areas our hospital is already serving medically and through rehab services.”
One possible expansion option is to rent 2 dance studios, likely in the Canton/Massillon and Youngstown areas. Akron Children’s officials hope to complete expansion by spring 2018 at the latest.