When a mother approached Point Performing Arts (3322 S. Campbell Ave., Suite A & B, Springfield, 417-885-8010) looking for a dance class for her child with special needs, studio owner Trai Hashmi decided to make a class designed for students with special needs and disabilities. The program started with four students, and Hashmi learned how to make the program work for the students as she went. With a mission of acceptance and love, the Superstars program at Point Performing Arts allows students with disabilities to get involved with the dance community in a welcoming environment.
Any kind of special need, whether it be physical or cognitive, is welcome at the weekly classes. Students can spend time with teachers and peers who are understanding and accommodating. The pacing of classes is centered around the needs of specific students. This includes creating a safe space for sensory and physical needs.
Sadie Busch, associate teacher at Point Performing Arts, says students are not limited to Superstars and are welcome to also join other classes at the studio. However, if they aren’t comfortable in other classes, Superstars is there for them. “So Superstars is a place for them to come in and still dance,” Busch says.
The Superstars classes at Point Performing Arts make a real, lasting difference on students. The program offers students a community that isn’t available to them in other spaces. Busch says many parents have mentioned that in school their children with special needs struggle and feel different. At Superstars though, they can find a peer group and feel comfortable with themselves. “They really feel supported and loved here,” says Busch.
Jennifer Steinmeier has been taking her 14-year-old daughter, Gabbie, to Superstars classes since 2019. She began looking into the class because of Gabbie’s strong love for dance. “We were looking for a program with some longevity for her,” says Steinmeier. “Where she could have fun that’s not so much pressure like some programs we have done before.”
At Superstars, Gabbie has gained friends in a place that has allowed her confidence to grow. During classes, Gabbie can be seen dancing, laughing and smiling alongside her peers.