During Autism Awareness Month
(Smithtown, NY) Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), the leading service provider for children and adults with autism on Long Island, was dancing for a cause during Autism Awareness Month. Adults served by DDI partnered up with students of Vic D’Amore’s American Studio of Performing Arts to produce “Dancing for Autism” April 20th at the Kings Park High School Auditorium. Over $3,000 was raised to benefit DDI.
With over 400 people in attendance, the dancers took to the stage with 11 acts including tap dancing, freestyle dance, and Irish step pieces. The event culminated with all the dancers performing Michael Jackson’s Thriller for the big finale. The 17 students from DDI practiced for the past two months to make pick up new skills and fine-tune their talents.
“It was exciting to see the collaboration that went on between DDI and Vic D’Amore’s Dance studio and the sheer enjoyment of everyone involved,” added Dan Rowland, DDI’s Director of Development. “The choreography, the music and the hard work that went into this was very apparent and I would like to congratulate everyone involved for a great performance and event.”
DDI’s Adult Service program serves adults with developmental disabilities and autism at seven locations throughout Suffolk County. This vital program assists adults served by DDI with education, personal skills development, recreation and job training services to help prepare each individual to become productive members of the community in which they reside. The dance program originated with Melissa Espinal and was coordinated alongside Evens Boursiquot. Both Melissa and Evens are Direct Support Professionals at DDI. Melissa’s son is enrolled at the dance studio as well. It was her determination and passion to bring the arts to the adults served by DDI allowing them to participate in a dancing event with typically developing students.
“The sheer energy and excitement could easily be felt in the crowd,” commented Melissa. “The experience for the DDI individuals of getting to dance at such an exciting level was very special, not to mention the new friendships they made along the way.”
DDI is a not-for-profit agency headquartered in Smithtown, NY, with more than 30 locations throughout Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Serving nearly 1,000 children and adults with a diagnosis of an autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), DDI is the largest provider of services for individuals with Autism on Long Island. It provides special educational, vocational, day and residential programs, as well as healthcare services for over 5,000 children and adults with autism or other developmental disabilities. DDI also operates family-centered preschool programs for both children with disabilities as well as typically developing students. DDI was founded in 1961 by a group of parents to address the special educational and therapeutic needs of their children with autism or other developmental disabilities. DDI is a member agency of the United Way of Long Island. For more information about DDI, visit www.ddiny.org.
During Autism Awareness Month