North Texas All-Girls Wheelchair Dance Team Seeks Community Support

Ayita, an all-girls wheelchair dance team in North Texas, provides a safe space for young girls with disabilities to express themselves through dance.

In a small studio at the Benbrook YMCA on Friday evenings, the vibrant sounds of music fill the air as a group of young girls, all living life on two wheels, dance to the rhythm.

For 14-year-old Mayli Gibson, who was born with spina bifida, dancing is more than just movement; it’s a way of expressing herself and proving that she’s just like any other girl, despite being paralyzed from the waist down.

Mayli’s mother, Sami Gibson, recognized the lack of inclusive dance classes for girls like her daughter and took matters into her own hands. In 2015, she founded Ayita, a Cherokee name meaning “first to dance.” Since then, Ayita has become a sanctuary for 16 girls, ages 4 to 15, offering them a space where they can be themselves without limitations.

While the YMCA generously provides studio space, Ayita relies on community support to keep its classes free for any girl who wants to join. Sami recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover the costs of this year’s costumes and recital fees, recognizing the financial challenges faced by families of children with disabilities.

As Ayita enters its ninth season, the support from the community is crucial in ensuring that these young girls continue to have a place where they can thrive and express themselves through dance, regardless of their physical abilities.

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