Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Students dancing for the disabled

Movement Centre holding fundraiser

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Nine-year-old Olivia Steadman lives with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, but she also has something else -- true friends.

Those friends and fellow classmates help her at school, but now they have volunteered to do more to help both Olivia and other children and adults with disabilities who receive therapy services at the Movement Centre of Manitoba.

More than a dozen girls in Grade 3 at Whyte Ridge Elementary School have signed up to become Team Olivia and raise funds at the upcoming Move ' N Groove-a-Thon fundraiser for the centre being held on April 14.

The event, which hopes to raise $150,000 for the centre, will see participating teams required to have at least one team member on the dance floor at all times during the 12-hour event. It is being held at Red River Exhibition Park beginning at noon.

On Thursday, members of the team, along with Olivia, practised their dance moves in preparation for the upcoming event.

It was easy for them to say why they wanted to be part of the event.

"Olivia is my friend and I like to support her," said eight-year-old Amy Sansone.

"I knew I was doing it not just for Olivia, but for other kids too," said Megan Yakiwchuk, who is also eight years of age.

And Olivia Weekes summed up: "Olivia is my friend and I wanted to support her and I wanted to support other kids at the Movement Centre, too."

With the help of educational assistant Donna Martin, Olivia Steadman cut a few dance moves herself with her classmates during the practice.

Afterwards, Olivia, who was smiling during the practice, said "I keep dancing with my friends."

Olivia's parents, Barbro and Tim, said they are overwhelmed by the generosity and support of their daughter's classmates.

"They are really role models for everyone how wonderful friendships can be," Barbro said. "They are showing empathy. They are showing compassion."

"The whole school is unbelievable in their support of students with special needs," Tim said.

Margy Nelson, the Movement Centre's executive director, said "this is what we would hope to teach our children, the ability to give back.

"They are eight years old and they have already learned it."

For more information on the event go to http://movengrooveathon.com/AboutMNG/index.html

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2012 B2

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