Wheelchair Dancing Mermaids in Benbrook

There's a new program in Benbrook that has its young students grinning from ear to ear.

For a group of sassy 5 and 6-year-old girls, their lips are glossed and shoes are laced up at the Benbrook YMCA.

There’s just one small thing that makes their dance special. These girls put a spin on their moves while in their wheelchairs.

“There are a lot of special needs dance teams. There’s not a lot of just wheelchair dance teams,” said mom Sami Wimberly.

A few months ago, Wimberly decided to take matters into her own hands by creating Ayita Wheelchair Dance for her daughter, Mayli, and some of her friends who were all born with Spinia Bifida.

“I know for my daughter, she loves to get to come to a class and not be questioned about her chair, not be stared at and learn adaptive moves she can do in her chair,” said Wimberly.

Her vivacious 6-year-old couldn’t agree more.

“We really have fun! And we can dance like free dance and we can just move around,” said her daughter Mayli Gibson.

Wimberly said Mayli had been in dance classes before, but they didn’t quite fit.

“The instructors, who were dancers, it was harder for them to come up with adaptive moves. And I know how Mayli can move in her chair and I know how other kids can move in their chairs and what moves they can do,” said Wimberly.

The girls have come up with their own adaptations of the “Whip and Nae Nae” dance and for their big recital, they wore sparkly mermaid tails and danced to a song from The Little Mermaid.

“It was amazing,” said Gibson. “It's like we get to wear makeup, we got to wear pretty mermaid tails and we can do the dance and it was just like, so happy,” she said.

Wimberly said all the girls have come out of their shells while attending the dance class.

She hopes it can spread a message of positivity to others.

“The more that kids and people see these girls doing great things in their chairs, the less pity they’ll have for them, said Wimberly. "I think that’s one of the hardest parts is when you go somewhere and someone is standing beside your child and they say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ and they feel bad for you. You just think, 'Don’t feel bad for us. She’s great! She’s healthy and we’re blessed.' I always tell Mayli you can do anything you want to do, you just do it different. And that’s the truth.”

Wimberly said the dance class is on a small break as the new school year begins, but it will resume in October.

She said the class is open to anyone in a wheelchair, including those who require someone to push them.

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