Dance the Night Away | Global Down Syndrome Foundation
DJ Shane Beard

Dance the Night Away

Shane Beard wants everyone to feel the love through music — so much so that he even named his DJ business The Love DJ.

“I always knew I wanted to be a DJ, since I was 11 years old,” Beard said. “I started to look up things about the music I liked, and then my mom kept searching for classes to train me.”

The search paid off when Beard’s mom, Carla Ellis, discovered the Global DJ Academy* in Denver and Walt White, the man who became Beard’s mentor.

“It has meant so much to him to play music. He is so proud of himself and feels he has his own career path now, something he enjoys and is good at,” Ellis said. “What I like best about being a DJ is letting the people have a great time and watching them have fun and feel the love,” Beard said.

With a website and YouTube channel in the works, Beard strives to share his positive message and has lined up other DJ gigs, including one with his church. And if you want to know if it’s Beard behind the turntables, just look for his trademark hat.

“I always wear a fedora when I DJ,” he said. “It makes me feel special.” 

I Love You Dance Parties

Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s I Love You Dance Parties provide the perfect place for adults with Down syndrome to kick up their heels, lift their spirits, and raise awareness.

Whether a person has twinkle toes or two left feet, Global’s I Love You Dance Parties embrace everyone. Designed to provide a real-life, age-appropriate experience for adults with Down syndrome and their friends and families, the events deliver a wealth of benefits to the community — promoting independence, exercise, and social interaction.

“They help me to get out of the house and see my friends that I don’t always see,” said self-advocate Rachel Greenlaw.

SOCIAL NETWORKING — AND SELF-ADVOCATING

“This is a place where self-advocates can get out and get moving. They’re not sitting and watching TV, and most of our folks love music and dance,” said Dennis McGuire, Ph.D., Senior Consultant at Global and a behavioral expert with more than 30 years of experience in mental health and developmental disabilities. “Having something to look forward to, to go out and not be stuck at home where you’re more likely to be depressed or just not enthusiastic about life, is vitally important.”

Beth Burczyk has attended 12 dance parties so far and likes the mature, elegant bar atmosphere that includes the option to enjoy a single cocktail or a “mocktail.”

“It’s fun and adult,” Burczyk said. “Going makes me feel comfortable and confident that I can do things like this and that it’s OK.”

“The events are very positive and upscale,” added Burczyk’s mother, Laura. “Global provides a safe environment, and the dances are always fun.”

A generous grant from The Salah Foundation, which supports nonprofit organizations that strengthen families and communities, helps fund the events. Held quarterly in downtown Denver and hosted by a celebrity emcee, the parties have attracted as many as 150 people per event and help fill the striking social void that can develop after schooling ends.

The parties also present ample opportunity for adults with Down syndrome to advocate for themselves, for example, by coordinating their transportation, paying with money they’ve earned, or making sure they are served what they ordered.

“It gives Rachel a positive feeling of independence,” said Greenlaw’s mother, Diane. “Even though there are chaperones at the dances, the chaperones include themselves as friends and dance, too.”

For self-advocate and DJ Shane Beard, the dance parties turned into a chance to showcase his talent and love of music. After attending several events, he recently took to the turntables to entertain the crowd at both the 2016 Hollywood Ball and the December I Love You Dance Party.

“DJing the dance parties has helped me share with people the music that speaks to the heart and helps people feel special,” Beard said. “That makes me proud to see everyone happy.”

 


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!

ONE NIGHT, A LASTING IMPACT

“The events are critical to their sense of self-worth, feeling included and excited about their journey as adults,” added Beard’s mom, Carla Ellis, who attends with him. “It’s pure joy, with loads of laughter. It’s always an experience for everyone — parents, caregivers, friends, self-advocates, all on the dance floor, just letting loose and having fun.”

The aim to keep participation balanced between self-advocates and the typical population ultimately serves a long-term goal of building strong friendships and relationships that change the way people perceive individuals with Down syndrome. Plus, having planned activities does more than simply fill an evening, according to Dr. McGuire.

“Our guys love schedules, and when they have one, all of a sudden they’re involved in the world, dancing, doing activities,” Dr. McGuire said. “They have a sense of control and participation in things. It changes their sense of themselves in so many positive ways.”


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