Sweethearts dance taps into inclusivity

Ashlyn Ledbetter

Staff Writer

The city of La Verne put on the Annual Sweethearts Dance for individuals with special needs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 10 at the La Verne Community Center. The dance was sponsored by the Order of Alhambra, a fraternal organization of Catholic people that have dedicated themselves to assisting people with disabilities.

One of the goals of this dance was to create an inclusive environment in the La Verne community where everyone feels welcomed. 

The dance consisted of refreshments, a live DJ, and a photo booth to make these memories last a lifetime. Right as guests were walking inside, smiles lit up on their faces as they all gathered on the dance floor.  

Tickets were sold for $6 and $7 at the door. La Verne was expecting to see a little over 100 attendees following many years of having maximum capacity.

The city of La Verne Community Services Department chaperoned the event along with volunteer parents and teachers.

Many participants were students from Mt. San Antonio College, where they offer an IMPACT program that encourages independent living for people with intellectual disabilities and assists participants in strengthening their capacity for self-advocacy. Additionally, it offers classes on topics including technology, college courses, and employment as well as mobility and physical wellness.

IMPACT program teacher Kristine Zapata has been promoting the event to her students and believes La Verne does a great job at involving and encouraging their students to attend.

“I love how La Verne is promoting inclusion for our students and I feel that our students deserve to be welcomed, respected, and valued as a part of our community,” Zapata said.

The inside was decorated with Valentine’s Day decor as the walls were coated with red signs and balloons along with another room across the hall which featured the photo station.

Recreation leader Samantha Miranda has worked this dance for two years. She played her role by helping set up for the event along with working at the entry table. 

“I love seeing everyone having a good time and getting together,”  Miranda said. “I enjoy being able to decorate the halls. People seem to really enjoy getting to attend the dance.” 

Individuals with special needs and their families from the community of all ages are welcome to attend the Sweetheart’s Dance. Most of the attendees were ages 13 and up. 

Community Services Specialist Amanda Triay was the head chaperone for the Sweethearts Dance. Triay said she is  looking forward to starting to plan the next event.

“We are hoping to have different events in the future and more variety, whether that be movie nights or just other extracurriculars that we can have for those of special needs,” Triay said. “I hope that people wanna stop by or come and check it out, just come see what it’s like and just hang out with us.” 

The city of La Verne offers a variety of dances throughout the year in order to offer programming for the special needs community. 

“We offer three dances throughout the year, our sweethearts dance, the luau dance, as well as our Halloween hop dance,” Community Service Coordinator Jessie Cervantes said.

For more information about the Sweetheart’s Dance, contact the community services department at (909) 596-8776. Locals are encouraged to call and express any ideas they might have for future events. The group is constantly looking for innovative methods to make city services more accessible. 

Ashlyn Ledbetter can be reached at ashlyn.ledbetter@laverne.edu.  

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Ashlyn Ledbetter, a sophomore communications major with an emphasis in public relations, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.


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