Get excited, Tuscarawas County! The instructors at the Lacey PAC Adaptive Movement Center are gaining momentum and building accessible space for dancers with autism and other developmental disabilities.
#BetterTogether is brought to you by the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
The community in New Philadelphia and surrounding areas are on the verge of a major adaptive, accessible resource. The community of Tuscarawas County will soon be invited into the dance studios at the future Lacey PAC Adaptive Moment Center! Lacey Herbert-Stephen, founder & fellow dancer, spent some time talking with us at Newsymomabout the new studio.
What’s the Plan?
Lacey was an open book when asked about her experience with sensory-friendly development. “The planning process has been intense,” she confessed. “We had to learn a lot about how to provide people with the equipment and environment that is conducive to their sensory needs, whether it be more or less input depending on their desire to seek out or avoid more or less stimulating experiences.”
As the mother of a 3-year-old son with autism, Lacey knows the value of providing tools and activities for nonspeaking children and adults that crave sensory input. Not only was he an inspiration for the studio, but she was able to learn from her son what activities and tools would benefit a studio for students with autism and other disabilities. Lacey also gushed, “I was led by some great people along this journey, including Kristi Blick from TuscBDD Early Intervention and Farrah Raines, the Occupational Therapy Assistant at TuscBDD Starlight School, as well as many more.”
How Lacey Has Made the Center a Budding Reality
“The Ruth Carlson Starlight Foundation is amazing; we applied for it and received $3,000 in funding to pay for the “sensory and movement” classes that we offer for people with disabilities at the dance studio! The funds allowed all 44 of our students with autism and other disabilities to attend classes for free this season. We hope to get enough funding for the Adaptive Movement Center to cover their tuition there as well!
While the dance studio will remain an LLC and become a sister company to the new studio for people with autism and other disabilities, the Adaptive Movement Center will be a 501 (c)(3). Says Lacey, “It was a very in-depth process. Thankfully our Accountants Sherman & Huggins led us to an amazing professional in Canton who is great at filing and helping nonprofits.”
More About Lacey’s “Why”
It’s not difficult to imagine why Lacey wanted to create a center for kids and adults with autism and other disabilities. “My handsome 3-year-old son was my inspiration! He was diagnosed at 18 months old and once he got diagnosed, we were in the dark. We had no idea what to do or where to go. I got in touch with our local TuscBDD Early Intervention “Help Me Grow”, which I highly recommend to everyone that gets diagnosed early.
“We realized that our son Cash was really into music and dancing. At the time I was working a full-time job, which was not convenient for our family. Opening the dance studio seemed perfect for our family and somewhere safe to take Cash. Then I was introduced to Farrah Raines. I knew that we had something special. Farrah is a one-of-a-kind woman and teacher. She brings something special to every class and is so knowledgeable about developmental disabilities.”
Lacey noted that there are a few places to take children and adults for extracurricular activities. It can be hard traveling further away to find additional options. She continued, “We have great things in our community that are set up for our family members with disabilities but options for after school and summer are limited. Our facility will expand options for these families and provide weekday, weekend, and yearly activities for them!”
Tell Us More About Lacey PAC!
The dance studio’s first recital is scheduled for May 7th, from 12 to 4 pm. (Located in the New Phila City/County parking lots, across from the fire station.) The community is encouraged to attend the festivities and check out the free show! There will be raffle items, a silent auction, a 50/50, and of course delicious food trucks on-site!
Those interested in taking classes at Lacey PAC should keep an eye out for the summer schedule and camps. Additionally, they will be adding a competition team, a musical theater performance team, and a gymnastic program. You can find the studio on Facebook, too: Lacey Performing Arts Center. Email the performing arts center (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about registration or a studio tour!
A Bright Future
Lacey’s hopes are high and her dreams are BIG. With quality funding and the right support, she’s extremely hopeful about a bright and rewarding future for students with disabilities at the Adaptive Movement Center. “Our typical children and adults have so much opportunity in this area and everywhere. People with disabilities deserve the same! Our Center will be a place that they run, and we are just there to facilitate and help. We will adapt to them because they constantly must adapt to us typical people daily.”
How can the community help?
“This community is beyond amazing,” exclaimed Lacey. “Having a child with disabilities has opened my eyes and heart much more than ever before. I have always loved our community and have always prided myself on shopping local and supporting local businesses. Now I see it in a different light, we have so many small businesses [and families] that donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep this community running.”
You can easily donate or help out with the new movement center! To become a volunteer or sponsor a student with disabilities, please email us at email@example.com. If you would like to donate anonymously, you can do so at The First National Bank of Dennison (Dover Location)- mention it’s for the Lacey PAC Adaptive Movement Center!
A Strong Community with Good Things to Come
Lacey has experience running a dance studio, but she was quick to admit she’s learned a lot in the 12 years since opening the original Lacey PAC in 2010. Becoming a mother and raising a family has changed her heart and values. “I know that people spending their money on dance and taking time out of their day to support us is something way more valuable than getting rich. It is about human relationships and helping raise our youth to be good, kind, and caring people. It’s about taking pride in themselves on learning to practice, follow instructions and take care of their bodies.”
Lacey added, “I think that the Adaptive Movement Center will bring our community even closer together. I hope that it shows our typical dancers how beautiful dance is in many ways. Hopefully, we can inspire some of them to help our inclusive community. I hope that instead of being leery of students with disabilities in school or outside activities, they will approach them and get to know them or say hi. I hope to bridge the gap between youth and youth with disabilities. I’d like to educate this community even more on the disabilities community! The sky’s the limit and we are going for it!”
The Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities (TuscBDD) has resources for children and adults with developmental disabilities. TuscBDD provides Early Intervention for children from birth to three years old, Service and Support Administration for people of all ages, family support services, family mentorship, and more! To learn more about these services, visit the TuscBDD website at https://www.tuscbdd.org.