Karen Medina's dance experience stretches back 30 years, but it wasn't until she connected with the Lucas County special needs community that she shaped her business — and her life — forever. “I realized that dance doesn't have to be the perfect show — it really goes back to how it makes you feel,” she says. For the past three years, young adults with special needs have found an outlet for creativity and physicality with help from Medina, a local dance instructor.
Medina works in coordination with the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Harbor’s Quest Program, coaching a group of 23 individuals in her Victory Dance classes, sessions that allow dancers with special needs to find freedom, and joy, in music and movement. Though Medina had no previous personal experience with individuals with special needs, she says these classes have revitalized the idea of dance for her. She explains that she is not only impacting the lives of her dance students, but that they are having a huge impact on her. “Every week I'm humbled,” she says.
Though Medina recently had to move her classes to an interim location at the Collingwood Arts Center, she says the temporary stresses do not affect the dancers' spirit. “As long as I have music and a place, these kids will come,” she says. And even during this transitional period, Medina is optimistic about her goals for the classes. She wants to set up a non-profit organization to give the idea room to grow, and plans to reach out to others in the special needs community. In the future, Medina hopes to have a wheelchair class, a class for hearing-impaired school age children, and a class for those with sensory impairment. Anyone interested in getting involved with Medina's Victory Dance classes can contact her directly for information at firstname.lastname@example.org.