“So much of a special needs person’s value and uniqueness is in their personal interactions.”
–Lindsay Wrege, special needs community dance group leader
N.C. State freshman Lindsay Wrege has been involved with the special needs community since she can remember. Namely, since third grade, when she became fast friends with three girls with special needs in her class. “Growing up with them has taught me so much, and shaped who I am today. We still keep in touch.”
Wrege’s childhood friends are part of what inspired her to organize a weekly community dance group meant for special needs people. The other part of the inspiration came from her time working in Cary at Creativity in Motion, a tutoring and dance studio for children with special needs. She began as a high school freshman; when the owner went on maternity leave at the end of her junior year, Wrege stepped up to the plate. She held classes at her house for the summer, and she and her sister, Kailey Wrege, decided they wanted to continue the classes into the fall.
In 2016, the sisters’ unnamed troupe performed its first recital at the Cary Academy auditorium. Since then, they’ve performed around the Triangle, such as with a local Indian dance group and at a gala fundraising for down syndrome research. At the inaugural recital, Wrege was then the captain of the school’s dance team. She taught a modified version of the school team’s routine to her special needs dance group for the performance. On that recital day, much of the school team was in the audience. “The girls were absolutely amazing,” she says of the group. It was the first time many of Wrege’s teammates had spent time with peers with special needs, she says. “I find that it’s so important for people to have regular interactions with them.”
To facilitate regular interactions, Wrege’s dance group is routine in meeting time only: Tuesdays at the Wreges’ home dance studio. Choreography and public performances run the gamut, especially now that Wrege has passed the torch to 15-year-old Kailey Wrege. While Lindsay Wrege focuses on college, her sister draws on her own experiences: a background in synchronized ice skating, for example, motivated one recent ice routine performed alongside the high school skating team (pictured above).
As Wrege studies biomedical engineering at N.C. State, she still meets with the dance group as often as possible. But the nuts and bolts are left to her sister – for now. Meanwhile, she has another on-campus extracurricular project: 321 Coffee, a pop-up coffee shop at N.C. State providing work experience for special needs adults. – Catherine Currin
To learn more about Wrege’s coffee shop: 321coffee.com