Cassie is like every other little girl her age she dreams of being a ballerina. Ancaster dance studio Dancesations has made this dream a reality for a very special little girl. Cassie suffered a brain injury at birth and she has left sided hemiplegia cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus. Cassie is very lucky that her cerebral palsy is mild allowing her to participate in ballet.
Her dad and I were over at a friend’s house and there daughter was playing a dance video from her dance recital and it gave her dad and I the idea to ask the studio to allow Cassie to take ballet. Cassie wears big chunky, colorful leg braces and we were not too sure if she would be able to dance because of her braces. Her physiotherapist told us to take off her braces and buy her ballet shoes and show her how to point her toes. The first few classes at Dancesations we were nervous because we had sort of down played Cassie disability to everyone and just put her in the class with little girls her own age.
We attribute a huge part of Cassie’s success to her teacher Miss Audrey. Miss Audrey pushes Cassie. She constantly reminds Cassie by saying, “Dancers use two sides of their body.” Especially when Cassie’s weak hand starts flopping. When Cassie started ballet lessons last year she did not exactly exhibit the refined control of a ballerina. Each week Miss Audrey showed her patience and discipline. The student teachers helped also by correcting her positions and improving her coordination. Most importantly, Miss Audrey has taught Cassie to be proud of herself.
Cassie has known the ballet ethic of hard work her entire life. Born with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy, just learning to walk took a lot of practice and discipline. Cassie spent hours at the Children’s Developmental Rehabilitation Program at Chedoke. Cassie went through a series of steps to learn how to walk. She rode on a pony walker, then progressed to a wheeled walker and went on a treadmill to gait train for hours. Her therapist used to sing wiggles and barney songs to keep her legs walking on the treadmill. Cassie surprised her guests at her second birthday by taking her first few steps alone.
We knew Cassie had an interest in ballet after her grandpa installed a bar on the wall of our living room. Cassie would scoot over to it and pull herself up. This helped Cassie learn to stand. While Cassie was learning to walk we pretended Cassie was in ballet class holding her bar and playing music. She wore a tiara when she did her physiotherapy.
Cassie will be performing in her first production this spring. Cassie loves her costume. She is proud of what she has accomplished this year. Although Cassie may never become a prima ballerina Miss Audrey and Dancesations is helping Cassie live her dreams.
- Submitted by Kathy Fruck, Spring 2006