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Around Cornerstone: News

Senior Emily McGinnis Dances Into the Hearts of Special Needs Children

Cornerstone seniors are required to complete a capstone project, during which they consider their God-given gifts, talents, interests, and passions as they explore a final in-depth service project. 

Components of the senior legacy project include:

  • Community service focused on a social impact cause
  • Written research paper and reflection
  • Adjudicated oral presentation

Leading up to graduation in May, we will be highlighting one senior legacy project each month. 

This month, we interviewed Emily McGinnis about her project to inspire children with special needs to live a healthy, active lifestyle through dance.

What is the overall purpose of your project?

The purpose of my project is to give opportunity to children with special needs to get out of their house and have a fun, healthy activity, like dance. Dancing is so good for any person no matter the disability, and I really wanted to give children with disabilities the chance to be able to dance in a safe setting while making friends. 

What inspired you to make this your project?

I have been a dancer since I was three, so it is a big part of my life. Also I have a brother with Down Syndrome. My dance teacher has always wanted to be able to provide special needs dance classes at my studio, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity. I know how fun dance is, and I was super excited to be able to make it available to kids like my brother who mean so much to me. I was able to combine two of my passions into one. 

How long have you been dancing and what kind of dancing do you do?

I have been dancing since I was three years old, and I dance ballet, contemporary, and modern.

How long have you been teaching dance? Or is this the first time you’ve done it? 

This is my first time getting to teach dance. 

How many students do you have? 

We have had up to four kids at a time attend my class. It may seem like a small number, but it seems like a perfect amount because it allows me and my assistants to individually focus on each kid and their needs. 

How do you hope this will benefit your students with special needs in the long run? 

I hope it will give them a passion for something they like to do, and I hope they will continue to explore dancing. I hope that they realize that no matter their disability they can still dance and do so many things that people usually limit them on. I hope that they know that they can do and be anything they want without limits. It also gives them a place to make friends so they can get more social interaction.