Hearing impaired children learn language through dance

Published: Sep. 11, 2013 at 11:10 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2013 at 8:54 PM EDT
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Jenny LaWall
Jenny LaWall

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Famous dancer Martha Graham said dance is the hidden language of the soul. How fitting then that children who are learning how to improve their language, are getting lessons in dance.

When you are watching the children at the Heuser Hearing and Language Academy in downtown Louisville do plies and chasse's, you don't really notice the hearing aids or cochlear implants behind their ears. Each week, the Louisville Ballet comes to the school to dance with the kids.

"It's just such an amazing feeling," said Jenny LaWall, the Outreach Coordinator with the Louisville Ballet. "So special to see excitement and joy. I love it.  It makes my day."

The visits are possible because of a partnership between Fund for the Arts and Kosair Charities, which funds the $10,000 program.

Yes, the kids are learning how to dance. But they are getting so much more out of it.

"The children just love it. They don't realize that while they are having fun dancing, they are also learning speech and language," said Debbie Garvue with Heuser Hearing and Language Academy.

WAVE 3 News Anchor Shannon Cogan said she's seen the learning first hand. Her son Colt, 4, wears hearing aids. His favorite day of the week at school is when the Louisville Ballet visits.  The children love the moving, running and spinning. And that movement helps them in other ways too, long after they leave the room.

"Then they start learning how to walk better, more in tune with biomechanics. Walk around differently. More apt to speak up in class. Just an overall confidence builder," said Brett Bachmann, CEO of the Heuser Hearing Institute.

Barbara Sexton Smith with Fund for the Arts came to Heuser Hearing and Language Academy to watch the children dance. "Children will surprise you. You bring art in the conversation or activity and people just loosen up. Art is the common thread that connects all humanity. It feeds our soul, expresses who we are," said Sexton Smith.

This dancing may just help the children soar.

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