Houston dance teacher breaking barriers with special needs kids

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A special instructor is using dance to break down the barriers of disability for hundreds of children and adults around Houston.

Dana Sparks is an instructor with Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS). Every week she visits with children who have disabilities and teaches them how to let loose and dance.

"It's the most uplifting thing in the world to work with them," said Sparks. "A lot of them are very shy on the first day. But they come out of their shell."

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Sparks, a dance teacher since the age of 19, says dancing helps her students forget about their struggles.

"I think they totally do. And I forget that they have a disability as well," said Sparks.

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Sparks invited us for one of her dance classes at the Center for Hearing and Speech. Dozens of kindergarten students gathered in the auditorium. Sparks set up her boombox and turned up the music for a series of dances.

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After teaching at the center, she packed up her things and headed over to Friends of Down Syndrome, an organization that helps and assists adults with Down Syndrome.

Sparks was immediately greeted with hugs and kisses.

"I love her so much from the bottom of my heart," said one student.

During these dance sessions, Sparks encouraged dance students to freestyle. In that moment, we saw those students let loose, and we saw the difference and impression it made on them.

Dana Sparks proved to us life is better when you just dance, and for that, she deserves this week's Foti High Five.

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