A! Magazine for the Arts

Grant to support Dance for Adults with Disabilities

March 1, 2011

JOHNSON CITY, TN - Most researchers at East Tennessee State University use grant dollars to purchase equipment and supplies - things like electron microscopes, laboratory instruments, sophisticated machinery and so forth - to support their scientific endeavors.

Dr. Arnold Nyarambi, on the other hand, has a procurement list that includes African-Caribbean drums and videos, musical shakers, and costumes.

These items will be put to good use this semester when students from his "Exceptional Learners" course host an Afro-Caribbean and Western Music Dance that will be open to local adults with disabilities. This will be the fourth dance coordinated by his students since 2009.

"They (the students) do everything, from organizing the event, advertising, and recruiting participants, to even leading the dances," said Nyarambi, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Learning in the Claudius G. Clemmer College of Education.

Already, more than 300 persons with disabilities and their caregivers have attended the dances, and over 200 ETSU students have been involved in the planning and implementation. The Afro-Caribbean drums and shakers were recently purchased through an instructional development grant awarded to Nyarambi from the university and will be used for the first time at the spring dance.

"The dances are a wonderful recreational opportunity for adults with disabilities," Nyarambi added. "They learn how to dance and play the drums while also gaining insight into a new culture."

In addition to the music and dance, guests also participate in various indoor games.

All undergraduate education students at ETSU are required to take the "Exceptional Learners" course, which includes a 10-hour service-learning requirement. Nyarambi uses this component to engage people with disabilities to interact with ETSU students.

Previous dances were held at a local church and at the ETSU Basler Center for Physical Activity.

For more information, contact Nyarambi at nyarambi@etsu.edu or (423) 439-7607.