Eau Claire (WQOW) — A Chippewa Valley show choir in its second season, is giving local kids with special needs the opportunity to sing and dance and even make some friends.
Hearts in Harmony is an adaptive show choir for people with special needs.
“The students, they’re the most amazing, loving, caring people I’ve ever encountered,” said Shauna Eilts, director of Hearts in Harmony. “They’re always happy and their willingness to try new things is amazing. ”
Each student works hard to memorize dance moves, all while making friends.
“I learned a lot about how much I think I underestimate people with special needs and just how much they want to be in a community, and how much fun it is to be in their community,” said Sydney Stoll, a volunteer with the show choir. “They really want to talk to people, so just going up and talking to them, they really like it. This group gives these kids the community they really want.”
“I know some friends doing this,” Steven Folstad, one of the group’s members told News 18. “It’s a lot of movement, and I try to keep working hard.”
Eilts told News 18 that each song and dance helps the students develop social skills, and create a stronger community.
“The students we have, they care for each other, and they just develop these life-long friendships,” added Eilts. “It’s a place where everybody belongs. That’s kind of our motto, it’s for everyone.”
“Learning all new techniques and music, like the choreography, I like that,” said another member, Mackenzie Amundson. “I would encourage you to come and check it out. I love it here.”
Hearts in Harmony is open to people of all abilities. Eilts hopes the group can help spread happiness throughout the Chippewa Valley.
“It’s just genuine happiness and I think everybody needs that,” Eilts said. “Everybody needs that smile and to know that everyone is just here and there’s no judgment, and they’re all just here to be friends, and it’s just the most amazing thing.”
The group will be performing a concert Wednesday, July 17 showcasing this session’s work. It’s open to the public at 11 a.m. at the Pablo Center.
If you’d like to volunteer for Hearts in Harmony, or would like to get your child involved, Eilts says the best way is to contact the group’s Facebook page.