MAY 19, 1997
Britt Powell (left) and Melanie Velo-Simpson have brought fun and dance to Sorenson School.
Photo by Deborah Stone.
by Deborah Stone
Cadette Girl Scouts Melanie Velo-Simpson and Britt Powell of Troop 1537 are doing their part to help support President Clinton's Citizen Service Summit. The two Leota Jr. High ninth graders, in pursuit of their Silver Award, are leading a series of creative dance workshops at Sorenson School in Woodinville with a preschool inclusion class of Head Start children and children with special needs.
Both girls have had extensive dance training and have been friends since preschool. Their preschool teacher, Bonnie Madsen, later became a special education preschool teacher at Sorenson. Melanie's and Britt's families remained in contact with Madsen over the years, and a lasting relationship was established, but their connection goes even deeper. Madsen's own daughters, Beth and Suzie, did their Silver Award project using dance with Melanie and Britt when they were younger.
Melanie and Britt approached Madsen with their idea and have worked with her to develop the skills necessary to deliver the program to children with special needs. "Our emphasis is on self-creativity and open expression and we use a lesson plan for each session," said Melanie. "We want the children to have fun and enjoy the movement experience."
The scouts are introducing the preschoolers to basic movement vocabulary and are helping them learn to distinguish between light and heavy, straight and zig-zag, high and low, and other types of movements. Various activities are utilized to present the movements, including storytelling, songs, and games. Props such as scarves are also a part of their tools.
According to Madsen, the benefits to her students are many. "In addition to learning new ways of moving, the children are learning to take direction from other young people. The girls provide excellent role models for my students to look up to. It's wonderful to see two fifteen-year-old girls sticking with something (Girl Scouts) modeled after such positive values," she said.
Melanie and Britt have been working towards their Silver Awards since seventh grade. The award is a recognition of a scout's commitment and dedication to community service.