Students join Hannah and Friends dance party
Chelsey Fattal | Sunday, March 23, 2014
Hannah and Friends’ “March Dance Party” brought student volunteers and disabled participants together to stomp, jump and groove Saturday.
Hannah and Friends is a national organization that works to improve the lives of children and adults with special needs. Saint Mary’s students visit the residential home owned by Hannah and Friends every Wednesday to volunteer with special needs residents.
Once a month, Hannah and Friends holds a dance party at its 30-acre farm in South Bend. Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students joined in on Saturday.
Student coordinator Emily Hazen, a Saint Mary’s junior, visits local grade schools to help spread the message to “be a friend to all people with all different abilities.”
“We’re just working to help spread their [Hannah & Friends] message of awareness and compassion on SMC and ND’s campuses,” Hazen said.
Hazen said she was first drawn into the Hannah & Friends organization because of a dance party, she attended during her freshman year.
“It’s great,” Emily Small, a first year at Saint Mary’s College, said. “It’s so happy here!”
Small and her two friends, Kelly O’Reilly and Meghan McDonough, attended the dance party because they wanted a different service experience.
“The best part is the atmosphere,” McDonough said.
Katelyn Smith said her brother, who suffers from downs syndrome, inspires her involvement in the special needs community.
“The Hannah & Friends Dance Party is a fun way to get involved and everyone benefits,” said Smith.
Notre Dame seniors Amanda Frick and Gable Brady got involved with Hannah & Friends through their previous work experience.
“I worked with AmeriCorps in the summer of 2012 and I also helped with a Hannah & Friends summer camp in tandem … So I decided to come back today, just to help in any way that I can,” Frick said.
“Being with these participants is rewarding,” Frick said, motioning to the gaiety of the dancers at the Hannah & Friends facility. “Hannah & Friends is an organization of welcoming and genuine people.”
Hazen said students can get more involved by visiting hannahandfriends.org.