Do you remember when you learned how to tie your shoe? Three and four-year-olds at Visually Impaired Pre-school Services (VIPS) are hitting early-childhood milestones while excelling in the social-emotional and academic skills needed to be successful in any school setting.

Thanks to Arts for Kosair Kids®, The Louisville Ballet and VIPS continue their partnership to bring impactful, tailored arts experiences to students in Greater Louisville. Learn more below:

Creative Dance at VIPS

  • Kaitlyn McGrath, Louisville Ballet Instructor
  • Kathy Mullen, VIPS Director of Education

What do you remember about the first day of programming? The last? What was the biggest change?

Kaitlyn: While the creative dance program at VIPS is just beginning, I have already seen a dramatic change in the students during class. The first day, some of the students were timid, reluctant to share even their names… During our most recent dance class, the students were engaged and attentive to all of the movement activities! Some of the students with limited mobility are learning to participate with any type of movement that they are able to perform! All of the students seem to become more excited for dance class with each new week.

What is one new thing you’ve observed about the relationship between the arts and the wellbeing of the students served through Kosair® this year?

Kathy: We have recognized the opportunity to encourage our parents to carryover the activities from ballet class to the interactions they have with their children at home.  Many of our parents think of dance as being an independent skill.  This past weekend, during our annual VIPS Family Retreat and Parent Conference, we were able to explain and demonstrate with parents how much their children gain socially and [in motor-skills] when the parent is assisting the child with the motions of a common song. Parents were even assigning motions to the lines of favorite childhood songs!

Is there a moment or student transformation that sticks out to you this year?

Kaitlyn: Some of the students have not only a visual impairment, but use a mobility device and have limited movement. They do not let these limitations stop them from dancing. During locomotor movements through general space in the dance room, a student who uses a wheelchair was able to march with her arms instead of her legs! Another student was able to dance with her face using different emotions… It is so fun exploring different ways of moving with each student, no matter what their abilities or disabilities are.

Kathy: We also love that our students are gaining independence with removing and donning their shoes before and after dance class! Whoever thought this would be a gain from dancing with the Louisville Ballet?!

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