A mom wrote a letter to the NYC Ballet about her daughter's disability. They responded gracefully.

A mom writes a letter and gets a very happy and surprising response.

Meet Pearl and her awesome mom, Natalia.


They love ballet.

It just so happens that the New York City Ballet has an outreach program for kids.

The kids get to interact with real ballet dancers, and the program helps them build confidence in their dance skills.

But there was a complication. Pearl has cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture, and balance. It can also affect fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and oral motor functioning.

Pearl's mom was worried about what that would mean for her daughter in the class.

So she wrote the NYC Ballet a letter, requesting a private session.

"It would mean so much [to Pearl] to take part in a NYC Ballet workshop, so they too could become ballerinas."

"The worst thing they'll do is say they're not interested," she thought.

The NYC Ballet's response was a little better than she had imagined.

Not only did they set up four workshops for Pearl, they invited more children struggling with cerebral palsy to participate as well.

Then the NYC Ballet decided to write a letter too, hoping to get medical expertise on how to help the kids dance.

They sent an email to an expert in cerebral palsy, Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky at the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center at Columbia University.

"Would you be willing to come and help us set up some workshops for children with disabilities?" they asked.

His response was also better than they imagined.

At first, the professional dancers were nervous about how to behave around the kids.

A lot of kids with cerebral palsy struggle to move without braces, crutches, or other equipment. So the dancers asked Dr. Dutkowsky what to do with it during the lesson.

His answer was right to the point:

The decision to not use the braces made a huge difference to the kids and their families.

Juliet was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 2. She's slightly wobbly when she walks. It was not lost on her mother, Joanne, just how big of a deal it was for Juliet to be free of her braces.

For Juliet, it was a truly liberating experience.


For the professional dancers, it was an eye-opening experience.


19 kids got to participate in the program.

All because one mom wrote a letter.

It turned out to be a wonderful experience for all.

So wonderful, in fact, that the New York City Ballet will be continuing the program for the foreseeable future.

Awesome indeed.

You can watch their full story here.

More
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

There's a difference between dieting and being healthy, and often times, overattention to what you consume can lead to disordered eating. Eating disorders are dangerous and can affect anyone, but they're especially concerning in adolescents. Which is why WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is facing intense criticism for its new app, Kurbo, targeted toward kids ages eight to 17.

The app uses a traffic light system to tell kids which foods are a "green light" and can be eaten as much as they want, which foods are a "yellow light" and should be consumed with caution, and which "red light" foods they should probably avoid.

It seems like a simple system to teach kids what's good for them and what's not, but it regulates kids' diets in an unhealthy way. Gaining weight is a normal, healthy part of child development. Putting on a few pounds means your body is doing what it's supposed to do. While the app classifies foods with too much fat or calories as "red," children need to consume some of these foods to develop their brain.

WW is calling the app "common sense." As Gary Foster, the chief science officer of WW, puts it, items in the red foods category "aren't foods that should be encouraged in kids' diets, but they also shouldn't be vilified or demonized, and there has to be a system that's simple and science-based that highlights that so everyone in the family can understand."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being
via Ostdrossel / Instagram

Lisa is a lifelong bird enthusiast who goes by the name Ostdrossel on social media. A few years ago, the Germany native moved to Michigan and was fascinated by the new birds she encountered.

Upon arriving in the winter, she fell in love with the goldfinches, cardinals, and Blue Jays. Then in the spring, she was taken by the hummingbirds.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

RELATED: This service dog and veteran are raising awareness for PTSD in inspiring ways

"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

Inclusivity