‘AIR Dance’ attracts record number of revelers

Discover why the Parks Bureau puts on these events for people with disabilities and special needs, at the Mt. Scott Community Center …

The AIR Dance at Mt. Scott Community Center provides a special social event for guests every month.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
There’s little opportunity for youth and adults with special needs or disabilities to dance, socialize, and enjoy a party in typical settings.

But, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) – through their Adapted & Inclusive Recreation (AIR) programs and activities – help these special neighbors find new ways to use their leisure time in ways that enhance their health, well-being, and independence.

One such event is the monthly “AIR Dance” held at Mt. Scott Community Center. It’s gaining in popularity – with their October event, organizers said, being their best-attended dance to date.

This dancing duo is Kelley Crombie, who is the caregiver for her dancing partner, Patrick Moore.

DJ Tom Farley of “Tunes to Go” plays the hits.

In the community center’s large meeting room, a capacity crowd of revelers danced to popular music played by “DJ Tom” Farley of Tunes to Go.

“I been doing this for 27 years,” Farley told East Portland News. “I just love the people. And, I really enjoy seeing them enjoy themselves here, in a safe environment. Many of them have never been to a nightclub. But here, they make friends and meet people they know, and enjoy all kinds of music.

“I like to entertain – and they like to be entertained – that’s why I do it,” Farley added.

Although the general public may be unaware of the AIR Dance, it’s been a first-Friday-night-of-the-month tradition for decades.

The AIR Dance provides a safe social environment for people of all abilities.

“It was going before I became involved in doing this in 1980,” said PP&R Adaptive & Inclusive Recreation Program Supervisor Debbie Timmins.

“The dance is the social event for the community,” Timmons said. “It’s like a high school dance every month. Many of our guests are getting to experience something here that they might not have ever done before.”

Plus, it gives both the participants and their caregivers the opportunity to see one another on a regular basis, Timmons went on. “All of this makes it a very important social event for them.  It’s a chance to get people together in a really good environment.”

PP&R Adaptive & Inclusive Recreation Program Supervisor, Debbie Timmins welcomes guests, as “DJ Tom” stands ready to play more dance music.

Anyone at least 16 years old, living within the Tri-County area, who has a disability or special need, is welcome to come to the dance. The “cover charge” is $5 – no charge for accompanying caregivers, who must stay to assist their clients, unless prior arrangements have been made. That’s because the PP&R staff is unable to provide restroom or bus stop assistance.

Their next Air Dance events are on January 4 and February 1, 2013 at the Mt. Scott Community Center, 5530 Southeast 72nd Avenue.

For more information about AIR, visit their website [CLICK HERE] or contact Program Supervisor Debbie Timmins: Debbie.timmins@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-4328.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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