Outdoor virtual dance class at Gardner House

Just Dance, Dance, Dance!

Virtual Creative Dance class has been in session at Mercy Housing Northwest’s Gardner House community in south Seattle. This weekly program began in August of last year and is led by Zoë, the Youth Initiatives & School Liaison at Gardner House. It’s been quite a success, expanding to four additional MHNW communities across Washington. Zoë connected with Creative Dance Center (CDC) about partnering with MHNW to offer Brain-Compatible Dance Education for the kids at Gardner House. This teaching methodology focuses on creativity, collaboration, and developing mind-body connections, which allows people of all ages to learn and grow in an environment where personal uniqueness is celebrated. Zoë has worked with CDC Instructor Marika in a previous role and really appreciates the curriculum offered. “She creates a joyful and comfortable space for residents to play and learn through music and movement activities,” says Zoë. “I thought Marika would be a great teacher for the kids to not only make connections between their brain and bodies, but also to meet the kids where they are at socially, emotionally, and developmentally.”

Gardner House of kids at virtual dance classDuring the class, families, and kids explore dance concepts, learn developmentally appropriate dance skills, strengthen the body and brain, and connect with others to nurture imagination and self-expression. The classes are open to all ages, with a focus on school-age children. Participants are usually between the ages of 3-11. On any given week, there could be up to a dozen participants ready to dance their hearts out, half of whom are considered regulars to the new Mercy Housing dance scene!

TV monitor set-up for outdoor virtual dance class at Gardner HouseAccording to the staff at Tahoma View in Tacoma, the kids enjoy a mid-day stretch break by participating in the dance class, and it allows them to extend their online connections and interact with kids from other communities. “Dance class has been our most successful regular youth program! Our kids are always so excited to get moving after a long day sitting in front of their computers for virtual school,” says Zoë. They look forward to their weekly dose of dance. “Dance with teacher Marika is so fun! My favorite part is our stories at the end. Miss Marika tells us a story and we act it out,” says 10-year-old Eriona. This class is also open to the surrounding community and we hope to expand it to other MHNW communities as the year progresses.