Archive for the ‘Programs’ Category

Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dancers to Perform in “Nutcracker”

December 2nd, 2017 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Colorado Ballet Academy Students with Cora Jane and Kristina

Two ballet students from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class have been cast by the Colorado Ballet for their official production of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker.”  Both students are part of the ensemble of children partygoers and will have plenty of stage time to show off their dance skills and shine!

Global’s star student, Cora Jane Thompson, will perform in the Thursday, Dec. 7th, showing and star student, Kristina Penfield, will perform in the Thursday, Dec. 14th showing. Both students will perform in the prime time 7:30pm showing of The Nutcracker at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1101 13th Street in Denver.

Please support Global’s star students and our partner, the Colorado Ballet, by purchasing tickets to The Nutcracker performances on Thursday December 7th and Thursday December 14th at 7:30pm!!

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Program is made possible by generous grants from the Melvin & Elaine Wolf Foundation, The Daniels Fund, and the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation.

Global is deeply grateful to its program donors and to our partners – the Colorado Ballet and the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado.  Our Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class runs for two seasons a year. Each 16 week season is taught by Colorado Ballet professionals alongside Sie Center physical therapists and educators.  The program provides instruction on ballet movement, music appreciation, rhythm and basic dance steps as well as interpersonal skills, vocabulary and confidence building to students ages 5-14 who happen to have Down syndrome.

The program is designed as both a confidence builder to dance classes with typical peers and as a stand-alone dance class that gives students with Down syndrome the opportunity to make friends who also have the condition.

Over 30% of our students are scholarship recipients – to support the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class and our students in need, please make a donation today!

Congratulations, Cora Jane and Kristina! We are so proud of how hard you worked to be cast in The Nutcracker!  GOOD LUCK! We know you will SHINE!

 

Colorado Ballet Dancers Mackenzie Dessens and Gregory K. Gonzales with Kristina and Cora Jane

 

Colorado Ballet Studio Company Dancers with Kristina and Cora Jane


Watch our dancers featured on CBS 4 Denver here!


Watch our dancers featured on Colorado’s Best on Fox 31 here!


A SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR PROGRAM SUPPORTERS


 

A SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR PROGRAM PARTNERS


 

A SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR IN-KIND DONORS


Global’s Dare to Play Tennis Aces It

November 2nd, 2017 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Former No. 1 Seed And Eight-Time Grand Slam® Winner Mats Wilander Has A Special Bond With The Participants At The Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Dare To Play Tennis Camp In Denver.

 

This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

With the Help of The Daniels Fund, the University of Denver, and other generous donors, Global was able to establish the Dare to Play Tennis Camp in 2016. The camp is part of Global’s health and wellness efforts that link love of sport to better overall health.

The camp is co-organized by the Gates Tennis Center, where eight coaches are trained by Global staff. Training includes people-first language, consistency of tennis terms, and appropriate physical boundaries (e.g. circles of relationships).

“The participants have a ball, no pun intended!” said Michelle Sie Whitten, President and CEO of Global. “They are eager to get to the front of the line and hit that forehand or backhand, and you can see the amazing progress.”

POINTERS FROM PROS

When it comes to tennis, few players have a resume quite as impressive as Wilander’s — a resume that includes eight Grand Slam® championships and 739 matches won. Born and raised in Sweden, Wilander learned to play tennis on a parking lot that had been converted into a tennis court. By 1982, when he was just 17 years old, Wilander became the youngest male tennis player at the time to win the French Open. He went on to win five major singles championships by age 20, and by 1988, he was ranked No. 1 in the world.

After largely retiring as a competitive athlete in 1997, Wilander coached Sweden’s Davis Cup team, which he belonged to from 1981 to 1990. In 2002, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Nowadays, he runs a program called Wilander On Wheels (WOW) with Cameron Lickle, who was ranked No. 1 on the U.S. Naval Academy’s tennis team and served as its captain in 2002 and 2003. The pair travels around the United States providing clinics and lessons for tennis enthusiasts.

Wilander and Lickle usually work with very advanced players, but they were attracted to the idea of teaching participants who are differently-abled and, in the end, became inspired supporters themselves.

“All someone has to do is to spend one minute with one person with Down syndrome to understand how simply wonderful they are!” Wilander said. “It is terrible to think that there is discrimination against this population in research, medical care, and education. Whatever we can do to help the cause, we here at WOW are in!”

FAMILIAR TERRITORY

Wilander knows personally that children who need modifications can live happy, fulfilling lives. His son, Erik, has a r are genetic connective tissue disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). Affecting just one out of every 20,000 births in the United States, EB leads to fragile skin that blisters and tears from minor friction or trauma.

To help his son, Wilander and his wife, Sonya, decided to move their family of six from Connecticut to Sun Valley, Idaho, where the altitude and lack of humidity helps keep Erik’s skin from blistering. As a result, Erik has been able to ski, golf, and camp, just as typical teenagers do.

Wilander established the MW Foundation (wilanderonwheels.com/foundation) to bring attention to EB, but he also uses the foundation as a platform for raising awareness about issues affecting people with a variety of conditions.

“Down syndrome is much more frequent than EB, but it appears the community still has the har dest battle to fight when so man y people are unaware of the terrible disparity of funding for Down syndrome research,” he said. “We are grateful for everything Global does and for allowing us to help bring awareness to this important cause.”

HAVING A BALL

Dare to Play Tennis lasts for six weeks, and participants of all ages attend twice a week. The camp ends with an Exhibition D ay match where campers put everything they’ve learned to use, playing against each other as well as Wilander and Lickle.

While learning valuable skills is certainly a benefit, the camp is also about having fun. Few can attest to that quite like Lillian, a 32-year-old self-advocate from Denver who has attended for the past two years and has a special bond with Wilander.

“Tennis is a good exercise,” Lillian said in her husky commanding voice. “It takes a lot of mental focus and physical energy. I like to participate in Dare to Play Tennis to have fun and work on my game.”

Lillian explains how she even managed to get the better of Wilander a time or two.

“It was great,” Lillian said. “I surprised Mats with my strategies by attacking his left hand.”

Kept on his toes by the campers, Wilander enjoys his time on the courts as much as they do.

“I participate in a lot of events . I attend Wimbledon, the US Open, and many other exciting events, but being part of Global’s camp and sharing tennis with these campers is truly one of the biggest highlights of my year,” Wilander said. “All the participants in Global’s Dare to Play Tennis Camp clearly love all of their fellow campers and coaches and have such a robust engagement with life. If everyone shared their same zest for life, what a better, different world we might live in!”

MORE ALIKE THAN DIFFERENT

“Working with professionals like [Mats] Wilander and [Cameron] Lickle are definitely a perk of being on staff at Global,” said Evan Winebarger, Senior Manager of Health & Wellness Programs at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. “Not just because they are celebrities, but because they are amazing people who truly get it and allow the focus to be our participants.”

The admiration is clearly mutual.

“Global is an organization doing great things with great leadership who are passionate about their cause,” Wilander said after his exhibition match. “All of us are one chromosome or DNA strand away from being differently-abled. It is important to remember that.”

“I participate in a lot of events. I attend Wimbledon, the US Open, and many other exciting events, but being part of Global’s camp and sharing tennis with these campers is truly one of the biggest highlights of my year!” — Mats Wilander, eight-time Grand Slam® champion, former world No. 1 tennis player, and instructor at Global’s Dare to Play

This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read the whole magazine and get future magazines delivered to your door!  


Like this article? Join Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Membership program today to receive 4 issues of the quarterly award-winning publication, plus access to 4 seasonal educational Webinar Series, and eligibility to apply for Global’s Employment and Educational Grants.
Register today at downsyndromeworld.org!

Game On – With Super Bowl Champion Ed McCaffrey

September 1st, 2017 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Taking the field is a momentous, confidence-building event for any young athlete. Super bowl champion and former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey is dedicated to ensuring children and young adults with down syndrome don’t miss out.

 

This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

When Global Down Syndrome Foundation President and CEO Michelle Sie Whitten first met McCaffrey, there must have been an electric force field around them. The two high-energy, get-thingsdone people started discussing their passion for equality and fighting discrimination. The conversation turned to making Colorado the best place for people with Down syndrome to live and resulted in Global establishing the Dare to Play Football Camp with Ed McCaffrey as its featured coach.

“I’ve played football my whole life, and I’ve been coaching camps for 10 years,” McCaffrey said. “When I found out from Michelle that there aren’t many opportunities for kids with Down syndrome to play team sports, specifically football, we got together and decided, ‘Let’s make a football camp for them.’ They’re having fun, they’re making friends — they’re playing football for the same reasons we all started playing football.”

LEARNING FROM A LEGEND

Global’s Dare to Play Football Camp lets participants learn from the best, including McCaffrey, who’s no ordinary instructor. The 13-season NFL all-star has played with the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and Denver Broncos. A three-time Super Bowl champion, McCaffrey is one of only 31 NFL pla yers to win a Super Bowl with two different teams. He’s been a cornerstone of Global’s Dare to Play Football Camp every year since it started in 2010.

“I look forward to it every year,” McCaffrey said.

“What a blessing. Global organizes such a great opportunity for so many individuals with Down syndrome to play the great game of football, while also spreading awareness in the community about all the wonderful things individuals with Down syndrome can do. We’re working to dispel a lot of negative stereotypes.”

Each year, the camp attracts other professional volunteer coaches. In addition to McCaffrey, the star studded 2017 roster included Brandon Stokley, Tyler Polumbus, Shaquil Barrett, and Todd Davis, who have eight Super Bowl rings between them. Past pros include Ben Garland, Danny Trevathan, Chris Kuper, Britton Colquitt, Orlando Franklin, Malik Jackson, Ben Hamilton, Jack Del Rio, Brian Dawkins, and Joel Dreessen, who had nothing but praise for McCaffrey’s coaching and their experience at the event. “I’m blown away by it,” Dreessen told The Denver Post. “Ed McCaffrey was one of my heroes growing up, too. I always wanted to be just like him. So, to see him have his hand in something that gives back like this, it gives me more reason to really like it.” Global’s Dare to Play Football Camp is held at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and each participant is paired with a high school football player, or “Pal,” for camp practices and the big game day. The Denver Broncos Cheerleaders are equally important partners for Global’s Dare to Cheer Program, which runs simultaneously with the football camp.

The big game day has a dramatic opening, with the Denver Broncos Thunderstorm skydivers landing on the field, and it goes on to feature two scrimmages, lots of cheerleading, cheering from hundreds of fans, and the Denver Broncos mascot, Miles.

“It’s the smiles on the campers’ faces when they catch a ball or score a touchdown,” McCaffrey said, when asked about his favorite moments from the camps. “When they pick their teammate up who has fallen down, when they show compassion and joy and enthusiasm, it’s just that look that you see from them.”

“Ed makes fun of me because I don’t know a lot about football or who the celebrity coaches are,” Whitten said. “But it is obvious even to me what an impact this has on our self-advocates . The one thing that took me aback w as several of the fathers in par ticular getting teary eyed because they thought their sons with Down syndrome would never play football. I’m so glad w e turned that stereotype on its head!”

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE TEAM!

Studies have shown that physical activity builds self-esteem and boosts feelings of well-being, and so do connections.

“My favorite part is the practice time with my buddies and Pal and the game day,” said self-advocate Ben.

“I truly enjoyed helping coach the campers and getting to know them,” said Tanner, a Valor Christian Pal. “It was an amazing experience — one I will never forget. I can’t wait for next year!”

Twenty-one-year-old Maya, who has attended every Global Dare to Cheer Camp since 2010, is another shining example of the confidence physical activity offers. “My favorite part is the football team!” she shared. “What I like most about Dare to Cheer is my friends. My favorite cheer is ‘Blue and White, Fight Team Fight’.”

When asked who her favorite Bronco is, there was no hesitation. “Ed McCaffrey!”

ALL IN THE FAMILY

For Ed McCaffrey, sports and giving back is a family affair. His wife, Lisa, was a soccer star at Stanford University, and their four sons are following in dad’s footsteps. Max is a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers. This fall, Christian began his first season with the Carolina Panthers, and Dylan began playing in the Big 10 as a University of Michigan Wolverine. Luke, the youngest, still plays quarterback, receiver, and defensive back for Valor Christian but has received scholarship offers from eight college football heavyweights, including Michigan, where his brother plays, and The Ohio State University.

The four siblings have been Pals for Global’s football camps every year, and last year, Christian flew back from Stanford to help coach. Christian shared with ESPN and Down Syndrome World™ magazine how the camp has enriched his life and helped him create a lifelong friendship with camper Dusty, who happens to have Down syndrome (these stories are available at globaldownsyndrome.org/daretoplaymccaffrey). The key with the McCaffreys is that they don’t treat people with Down syndrome any differently, and they believe deeply in Ed McCaffrey’s wisdom.

“Kids with Down syndrome want to play sports for the same reasons everyone else does,” he said. “They want to have fun, they want to make friends, and they want to be part of a team.

A VEHICLE FOR OUTREACH

Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Health and Wellness Programs include the Dare to Play Football Camps, the Dare to Cheer Camps, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class, the Dare to Play Soccer Camp, and the Dare to Play Tennis Camp. Nearly 50 percent of the participants are on full or partial scholarships. The programs provide a great sports experience and allow Global an opportunity to provide information about life-changing medical care and research and connect families with resources. Nearly 100 percent of children and young adults involved in Global’s Health and Wellness Programs have received medical services at Global’s affiliate, the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado.


Like this article? Join Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Membership program today to receive 4 issues of the quarterly award-winning publication, plus access to 4 seasonal educational Webinar Series, and eligibility to apply for Global’s Employment and Educational Grants.
Register today at downsyndromeworld.org!

Colorado Governor, First Lady and Tennis Champion Support Global

September 15th, 2016 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and First Lady Robin Pringle Hickenlooper joined Mats Wilander, the former world No. 1 tennis player, at Global’s Dare to Play Tennis Camp Exhibition Day. The day was the culmination of a 6-week camp where athletes with Down syndrome and their typical peers learned the fundamentals of tennis.

Learn More

Global Receives Generous $100K from Daniels Fund

February 15th, 2016 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Global will launch three new Health and Wellness programs in 2016 thanks to a generous Daniels Fund grant:

• A new Global Dare to Play Football camp co-organized by the CU Buffs football team in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder Athletics Department
 
• A new Global Dare to Cheer camp co-organized by the CU Buffs cheerleaders in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder Athletics Department
 
• A new Dare to Play Tennis camp in collaboration with Gates Tennis Center

048The new football and cheer camps will be held on the CU campus where each participant will be paired with a football player or cheerleader for one-on-one attention, assistance and fun. They will also get expert instruction from CU football coaches.

The experience culminates with a scrimmage on the field during halftime of the home opener at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado, on Saturday, September 10th, where the University of Colorado Buffaloes football team will take on the Idaho State Bengals. It is expected there will be University of Colorado celebrity coaches at the scrimmage as well.

Dare to Play Football 23 The Daniels Fund, established by cable television pioneer Bill Daniels, is a private charitable foundation dedicated to making life better for the people of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming through its grants program, scholarship program, and ethics initiative. Visit DanielsFund.org to learn more.

Daniels Fund Logo
 

Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Classes at the Colorado Ballet

January 19th, 2016 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Celebrating 6 years of providing dance and confidence to children with Down syndrome

The Be Beautiful Be Yourself (BBBY) dance program was launched in 2010 with only 10 students and is a partnership between Colorado Ballet, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado. In six years the program has served over 100 children with Down syndrome and their families.

The BBBY classes are made possible by a generous grant from The Melvin & Elaine Wolf Foundation and culminate with two students being chosen to perform in the official production of the Nutcracker at the Colorado Ballet.

“You know you’ve succeeded as an instructor and as a catalyst for change when one of our students gets up in front of over 2,000 people at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Nutcracker,” said Gil Boggs, Artistic Director at Colorado Ballet. “You can almost feel the audience grasping that there’s a kiddo with Down syndrome on the stage nailing their role and inspiring a whole new paradigm. I am proud to put these dancers in the Nutcracker production!”

_Nuctracker

World renowned physical therapist, author of Gross Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, and Director of Therapies at the Sie Center, Patricia C. Winders, initiated the program.

The BBBY dance classes are offered weekly, throughout the year for 25 children with Down syndrome ages 5-14 at three levels of experience. Three Colorado Ballet instructors work closely with Winders to build kinesthetic and cognitive skills through locomotor movements that incorporate shapes, rhythm and basic dance steps. Each class culminates with a showcase for approximately 175 family members and friends where students demonstrate their skills and self-confidence.

“PWP - Intro - Piper (2)iper loved this class,” said parent Aimee Guildner. “In our world of school and homework and therapy, it made my heart happy to take her somewhere she was really, genuinely, excited about going. She could be herself. She could be successful. She was happy. I think that, all too often, our kids are faced with trying to be ‘good enough.’ I commend these classes for not making them feel ‘good enough’ and instead making them feel great!”

By Samantha Hyde, Colorado Ballet Director of Education

View photos of the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fall Dance Program!