CLEARFIELD -- Mimi Woolley has always loved to sing and dance. Now a special class is allowing her to step into the spotlight as she learns and grows her artistic abilities.
"My favorite part is the music," Woolley said. "It's part of my life."
Woolley, 56, is part of a city-sponsored class, now in its fifth year, geared toward helping special-needs individuals learn about singing, dancing and music.
Their accomplishments will be showcased in a spring dance recital hosted by the Felicity Dance Academy.
The class is broken up into 10-minute segments. It always begins with music theory and singing, and then participants move into dance. This year's class includes contemporary ballet and soft-shoe dance.
Woolley's guardian and sister, Christine Grondahl, said the class allows her sister to continue something she loves. She and Woolley began dance in junior high and elementary school, respectively.
From there, Woolley was involved in several classes and expanded her skills to gymnastics. She was able to go to the International Special Olympics in New York in 1974.
Grondahl is glad the class is available.
"It's an excellent thing to take advantage of in the community," she said. "Special-needs individuals need to feel of worth. Like everyone else, they like to get together and do things for fun."
She added that the instructor, JoAnn Parker, is sensitive to everyone who has a special need.
"All people are accepted," she said. "It's whatever they can do."
Parker agreed, adding that the class offers a low-stress opportunity to bring people together and let them enjoy the arts.
"They are not required to be perfect," Parker said. "It's just nice for them to come and enjoy the company of others. They can learn at their own level."
For the first time, Parker said, area youth groups are calling to participate in the class. They are spending 45 minutes with the group and assisting them in any way they can.
"It's amazing," Parker said of the experience. "It's very rewarding to see what they can achieve over time."
She added that it's important to offer such experience to the special-needs groups, who often don't have a lot of options for activities.
This class focuses on their abilities and gears activities so they can grow.
"They have the ability to learn, maybe at a slower pace, but they can learn," she said. "I have seen and witnessed it with my own eyes."
Parker has broken up the class to keep each participant's attention. She also put the music theory and singing first, because it is the area that requires the most concentration.
The students are learning to match their pitch with their voice and how to perform the main scale on the keyboard.
Once they finish in that area, the students move to dancing.
"They can get their heartbeat going and get exercise," Parker said.
And the class always ends with a song called "Smile." All of the students gather around a microphone and sing the song together.
Parker said there are about six in the class right now, but it could easily accommodate 12 students. It runs from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. every Wednesday.
Participants must have a support person present during the class.
For more information about the class, costs or age limits, visit www.reconline.org, call 801-525-2640 or go in person to the Clearfield Aquatic Center, 825 S. State St.