Ryan Price and Jayes Derriksan. - Instagram

Okanagan teacher uses Instagram to help kids with disabilities get dancing

A Kelowna teacher uses dance to help children with diversabilities

From moon-walking to a pop-and-lock, the students in the life skills program at Kelowna Christian School can do it all.

Their dance moves can be found on the Instagram account Diversibilites, created by life skills educational assistant Ryan Price.

Price started the account so the community could see how instrumental dance is in the positive growth and development of the life skills students.

“Dance is a really good creative outlet and expression for these students,” Price said.

“For some of them, it’s hard to articulate their thoughts or express emotion. So I think dance really helps to do that. It helps with their creativity and you get physical exercise.”

One student who always steals the show is Jayes Derriksan.

“I like to have all of the people go around me and I always like an audience,” said Derriksan.

The Grade 9 student has had a knack for dancing and finding the beat since he was very young, according to his mother Suki Derriksan.

“He was born with Down syndrome and from an early age he was very curious and very expressive,” she said. “He was (always) able to move in his environment really easily and he really loved music….. all types of music.”

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Also a lover of music and sweet moves is Price who saw dance as a teaching tool for his students like Derriksan, who have what is known as a diversability.

“Over the years, the students and kids I’ve worked with love being on camera,” Price said.

“I just had a lot of positive feedback from friends and family about these fun videos we do and people suggested getting a YouTube channel or Instagram account. It does give them a good platform, it promotes inclusion and they love it.”

According to Derriksan’s mother, children with diversability are often challenged by the big world that surrounds them and a majority won’t be able to participate or perhaps even be invited to participate in certain cases.

“Having program in a school that has life skills, that has an ability for them (the children) to be exposed to everything and understand they can have a part of it, and to be very kind with what the teachers and the aids can offer them is really important (sic),” explains Suki.

When Suki first heard about the Instagram account she wasn’t really sure what it was, but trusted Price and could see that her son was eager to participate.

“With the Down syndrome we have with Jayes it is also an opportunity to have a community and if there are things that we can do to that help the greater community we are 100 per cent behind that. And Jayes is not shy, he loves music and he loves to dance.”

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He also loves the time and attention he gets from Price while in the life skills program.

“He is really good with me. The first time I came to school, Mr. Price just took me in,” said Derriksan. “Mr. Price is my bro, he is always by my side and never leaves it.”

The two are a great pair on the dance floor and in the community where they are slowly being recognized.


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

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