Tiffany Chou, 18, a senior at Seabury Hall School in Makawao, was inspired by her special-needs brother to create “The Dancing Palette Project,” a weekend social program offering art, drama and dance activities for special-needs students and their teenage mentors.
“My brother loves to hang out and socialize with kids his age, although he has trouble gaining acceptance from other kids,” said Tiffany. So she conceived a program that would enable her brother and others like him to dance, decorate cookies, make T-shirts and participate in other fun activities while socializing with other teens in a supportive environment. Tiffany received approval to use high school facilities, and recruited several teachers to help plan the program. She also encouraged other teens to volunteer as mentors to the seven special-needs students in the program, which consisted of three weekends of art projects and then three weekends of dance and music.
“What we do so easily comes very hard for some kids – what seems like just one small step can be a huge victory and major step forward,” said Tiffany.
The Dancing Palette has been very successful in its first and second year and has now doubled in size. It is going on its third year and it will be expanding even more to other communities throughout Maui County. I wrote a grant last summer and The Dancing Palette has received a $1000 grant from The George P. Ida Tenney Castle Trust. This year I donated my $1000 scholarship from the Prudential Spirit of Community award for the program this coming 2005 year. I am currently a college student at The School of Art Institute of Chicago. I plan on continuing “The Dancing Palette” as a summer program this 2005. My website is dancingpalette.org, please e-mail me at [email protected]