A chance to dance: Club throws party for teens with disabilities
by Glenn Moore
Jan 24, 2014 | 1607 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lisa Sughayar remembers how the teenagers in her inclusion program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy cried when they couldn’t attend a prom dance out of town last year.

Sughayar said her heart broke to see them in tears, and she began working on an idea to give local kids with disabilities a dance of their own.

On Feb. 8, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy will play host to the club’s inaugural Special Needs Dance.

“It’s about a having a good time — I want the kids to come and feel free and dance and have the best time of their life,” Sughayar said. “That’s what I really want to see.”

The dance is open to community members as well as Boys and Girls Clubs of Tracy members ages 14 to 22, Sughayar said. A disc jockey will play music for the casual-dress dance, and participants can snack on party appetizers and beverages.

Sughayar said she hoped at least 60 people would take part in the dance in the main clubhouse’s gymnasium.

“The dance will give them the experience to get dressed up and go somewhere, dancing with their friends, and learn some independence in a safe way,” Sughayar said. “We want the kids to have a wonderful time and experience everything their peers do. They don’t always get that opportunity in regular high school dances or proms.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy has an after-school inclusion program for children and young adults with disabilities that serves about 20 people a day, Sughayar said. The club’s Challenge basketball league has grown to about 30 players, and sign-ups have begun for this year’s teams.

“We have thousands of kids with disabilities in Tracy,” Sughayar said. “We would like to do anything we can for them.”

Sughayar said she and her volunteers were doing their best to make the dance a memorable night for the kids.

“This dance is exactly tailored to their needs. All the volunteers will be very aware of the issues that may come up, from sensitivity to the music to a place to sit down or something else to do besides dance at that moment,” Sughayar said. “Everyone that will be working will be very encouraging and be able to try to meet the child’s needs.”

Sughayar said the first dance would be in memory of former Mayor Dan Bilbrey, who died in November, because of his contributions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy.

She said Bilbrey would often attend Challenge basketball games, and she remembered watching his face light up as he saw the kids playing on the court.

He also supported the club through the Tracy Hospital Foundation, making sure that needs as simple as a pair of shoes for a child were met.

“We have been supporting and offering services for kids with disabilities for over 15 years here. This is not anything new in our hearts,” Sughayar said. “This is just something new we wanted to do in memory of Dan. I thought, What better way to do something for him than have kids dance.”

• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or gmoore@tracypress.com.

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