Wheelchair dancing is a partner dance where at least one of the dancers is in a wheelchair. The physical benefits of wheelchair dancing include the maintenance of physical balance, flexibility, range of motion, coordination and improved respiratory control. This dramatically increases physical health and keeps your body fit and functioning The psychological effects of ballroom dancing are social interaction and the development of relationships. This increases your mental health and helps you develop a support network and friends to enjoy life with.
We had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Wheelchair America 2016, Dr. Alette Coble-Temple. Here is what she had to say about the benefits of dancing for wheelchair-users:
Ivan: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Dr. Coble-Temple: I am a licensed psychologist. I have a doctorate in clinical psychology and teach at JFK University. Currently, I’m Ms. Wheelchair America and part of what I’m working on is teaching people how to live successfully with a disability. I’m traveling the country. Today I’m in Tampa and this is my sixteenth state.
Ivan: How long have you been in a wheelchair, using a wheelchair for mobility?
Dr. Coble-Temple: I was born with cerebral palsy and in a wheelchair since the age of four.
Ivan: Did you ever dance or wish to dance like in a wheelchair?
Dr. Coble-Temple: I love to dance. As a kid, I used to be jealous. I couldn’t take ballet classes, tap dancing classes. But my brother and I used to dance around our house and in the pool and everywhere. Except as I got older, I figured out you can dance even in a wheelchair.
Ivan: We at Dance Passion teach people to dance in a wheelchair. Maybe in a little bit we can try it.
Dr. Coble-Temple: Excellent.
Ivan: I don’t think anything can stop you, if you have the passion and you’re willing and you love it then nobody can stop you.
Dr. Coble-Temple: That’s right.
Ivan: Do you think there is a benefit behind dancing for people in a wheelchair? For example, what is going to be the benefit for you if you start dancing? What do you feel is going to be the benefit for you?
Dr. Coble-Temple: There are many benefits in dancing. Obviously, physical exercise for the body and having greater flexibility and range of motion. Plus, I think the more important benefit is the psychological and social benefit because dancing is a compilation across cultures, it brings people together, it makes you socialize, and emotionally it makes you release endorphin’s that make you feel better about who you are as a person.
Ivan: That’s correct. One of the social benefits, you’re completely right, it makes endorphin’s, makes coordination better. Can you believe it, if you can dance in a wheelchair, after that everything on an everyday basis is going to be even easier. I completely agree with you.
Dr. Coble-Temple: I think everyone should get out and dance. That’s right.
Ivan: I think so, too.