Charlotte and Friends Dance and Play is a small organization located in Maryville that facilitates young children with all types of physical or neurological disabilities having fun in a non judgmental atmosphere.
This is a great opportunity for parents and their children to get to know other families who are on the same footing. Children who go and participate in this organization will be able to meet other children who may or may not have the same disabilities as them. Also, this is a great way for them to make new friends, which could lead to long term friendships.
Dr. Zachary Himmelberger, professor of experimental psychology with an emphasis in cognitive psychology and developmental science at Maryville College, has worked with many kids who have all types of disabilities, especially those with Down syndrome.
“When it comes to the younger kids, a lot of programs are done through the schools,” said Himmelberger. “I cannot think of a single similar program anywhere that is not tied in with the schools in some way. I think it is really cool, and I think it creates a good opportunity for these younger kids.”
Holly King, who is the owner of Charlotte and Friends Dance and Play, has been in contact with different organizations that have the same goal in mind. One of the organizations is the Autism Society of East Tennessee, where King will have her own table set up. This will allow her to reach more people who may have the same struggles she has faced with her own child.
“We are a brand new organization, and we are still in the beginning stages,” King said. “For my organization, our goal is to provide a fun and a non-judgmental atmosphere for these kids. My family has had our own experiences with our child. She has been judged and pushed out the door in every single extracurricular activity we have had her in, just because of her speech delay and sensory issues.”
Once King realized what types of experiences her child was going through, she finally decided enough was enough. She did not want her daughter to keep having these types of experiences, and that is the main reason behind why she started her own organization.
This organization is not only for her child, but for other parents and their children that have been experiencing the same judgment. Charlotte and Friends Dance and Play is hoping to launch their first event in the beginning of March 2023.
The first event for this organization will bring many families and their kids together with disabilities, since they will be able to see they are not alone and spend time in a welcoming community. This event will be hosted at a park in Maryville until a permanent location is found. The event will consist of different types of sensory activities for kids, food trucks and dance parties where the kids will never feel left out.