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Wheelchair dancing hits Viet Nam

Update: April, 27/2014 - 12:00

People in Viet Nam who use wheelchairs have a new activity to enjoy.

It is wheelchair dancing.

It is fun and a form of exercise and has therefore brought great happiness to people.

Although wheelchair dancing is new to Viet Nam, it has been happening in other countries for quite some time.

Moving: More than 20 wheelchair users and people with impaired mobility learn the basic movements of cumbia, a Latin dance.
Moving: More than 20 wheelchair users and people with impaired mobility learn the basic movements of cumbia, a Latin dance. - VNS Photo Gia Loc

By Gia Loc

HCM CITY (VNS)— Huynh Thanh Thao of Cu Chi District, HCM City, who has congenital brittle bone disease, was astonished to see a Youtube clip of a person in a wheelchair dancing together with a non-disabled partner.

"Wheelchair users can dance," she told herself ecstatically.

"Great! I want to dance like them."

Initially she had been worried if her disease, a genetic bone disorder that results in weak and fragile bones, will be an obstacle to her dancing. To avoid fractures, the 28-year-old, who is confined to a wheelchair, moves gingerly and little.

She spoke to a dance teacher at the Disability Research and Capacity Development (DRD) Center in District 10, who advises wheelchair users and people with impaired mobility about whether they can sign up for his free classes at the centre.

After being assured that dancing would not increase the danger of fractures, she signed up.

In the first class, she was taught the basic movements of cumbia, a vigorous Latin dance involving a lot of upper body movements and moving the wheelchair forward and backward to music.

"The dancing class brought me joy," she said. Besides, moving the neck, head, hands, chest, and back strengthened her muscles and reduced the danger of fractures, she quoted the counsellor as saying.

"Nothing is impossible," she said, promising she would continue to attend the class.

"Dancing gives me a chance to overcome my disability."

Nguyen Thi Dieu Trinh of Phu Nhuan District also has impaired mobility. She too wants to prove that people with disabilities can do everything ordinary persons do.

Trinh also attends the dance class with Thao, effortlessly moving her hands, torso, and wheelchair to the music.

The movements make her tired but it is fun for her.

"I have never done [something like this] before," she said.

"My physical condition and my job as an embroiderer give me back and neck aches."

When the centre staff asked Trinh if she wanted to join, she had no hesitation since it was a chance for her to exercise.

"Dances will help relieve my sores and lose weight," she said hopefully with a smile.

Wheelchair dancing is not unusual elsewhere, but in Viet Nam it is very new.

In HCM City, the centre offers the course for free to people with disabilities to help them have a healthy pastime and improve their physical and mind wellbeing.

Two evenings a week they can do chachacha, salsa, samba, merengue, reggaeton, or calypso.

The coach, Dinh Thanh Hieu, who has 15 years' experience in training sports dancers and has taught wheelchair dancing for three years in Australia and Viet Nam, said the latter was a popular social and recreational activity for people with disabilities in countries like Australia, the US, and Sweden.

It had also become a globally recognized competitive sport, he said.

"In these countries, people with disabilities pay attention to not only jobs but also mental well-being."

In Viet Nam, there were few entertainment options for people with disabilities, he said, hoping that the class at the centre would spark off their development.

Dance therapy

Because the lower limbs of wheelchair users and people with impaired mobility were weak, their dance movements focused on the upper body, Hieu said.

Wheelchair dancing strengthens muscles, bones, and the heart, increases energy, and improves posture, air flow to the lungs, the body's overall functioning, the nervous system, and blood flow, according to Hieu.

It also enhances co-ordination, flexibility, and agility, adding that wheelchair dancing is a way to lose weight.

Researchers at the University of Free State in South Africa said in a study published in the South Africa Journal of Occupational Therapy in August 2013 that wheelchair dancing helped improve self-esteem among adolescents with physical disabilities. — VNS

GLOSSARY

Huynh Thanh Thao of Cu Chi District, HCM City, who has congenital brittle bone disease, was astonished to see a Youtube clip of a person in a wheelchair dancing together with a non-disabled partner.

A disease that is congenital is one that has been with the person who has it since he, or she, was born.

People with brittle bone disease can easily break their bones.

"Wheelchair users can dance," she told herself ecstatically.

To say something ecstatically means to do so while feeling very happy.

Initially she had been worried if her disease, a genetic bone disorder that results in weak and fragile bones, will be an obstacle to her dancing.

Initially means "to begin with".

Something that is genetic is passed down in people's bodies from generation to generations.

A disorder is something in the body that does not work properly.

If something is fragile it can break easily.

An obstacle is something that gets in the way.

To avoid fractures, the 28-year-old, who is confined to a wheelchair, moves gingerly and little.

Fractures are breaks.

To be confined to a wheelchair means to be limited to a wheelchair and unable to walk about freely.

To move gingerly means to move with great care.

She spoke to a dance teacher at the Disability Research and Capacity Development (DRD) Center in District 10, who advises wheelchair users and people with impaired mobility about whether they can sign up for his free classes at the centre.

Mobility means being able to move around. When someone has impaired mobility, their being able to move around has been weakened.

In the first class, she was taught the basic movements of cumbia, a vigorous Latin dance involving a lot of upper body movements and moving the wheelchair forward and backward to music.

Vigorous means strong and full of energy.

"The dancing class brought me joy," she said. Besides, moving the neck, head, hands, chest, and back strengthened her muscles and reduced the danger of fractures, she quoted the counsellor as saying.

To quote a counsellor as saying means to say the words that the counsellor said.

"Dancing gives me a chance to overcome my disability."

To overcome a disability means to win over it and not make it worry you.

The coach, Dinh Thanh Hieu, who has 15 years' experience in training sports dancers and has taught wheelchair dancing for three years in Australia and Viet Nam, said the latter was a popular social and recreational activity for people with disabilities in countries like Australia, the US, and Sweden.

When two things are mentioned, one after the other, the first is called the former and the second is called the latter. In this case, Australia is the former and Vietnam is the latter.

It had also become a globally recognized competitive sport, he said.

A competitive sport is one that different people, or teams, play to try to win.

A globally recognized competitive sport is one that people know all over the world.

Wheelchair dancing strengthens muscles, bones, and the heart, increases energy, and improves posture, air flow to the lungs, the body's overall functioning, the nervous system, and blood flow, according to Hieu.

A posture is a particular position of the body.

It also enhanced co-ordination, flexibility, and agility he said, adding that wheelchair dancing is a way to lose weight.

To enhance means to improve.

Agility means being able to move quickly and easily.

Researchers at the University of Free State in South Africa said in a study published in the South Africa Journal of Occupational Therapy in August 2013 that wheelchair dancing helped improve self-esteem among adolescents with physical disabilities.

Someone's self-esteem is the feeling they have about how much they value themselves.

An adolescent is someone who is between being a child and an adult; like a teenager.

 

WORKSHEET
Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

1.     A type of educational institute in the Free State province of South Africa.

2.     A country in which Dinh Thanh Hieu has taught wheelchair dancing.

3.     A vehicle used by disabled people who cannot walk.

4.     The work Nguyen Thi Dieu Trinh does to make a living.

5.     A type of dance.

 

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ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2014






























 1. University; 2. Australia; 3. Wheelchair; 4. Embroiderer; 5. Chachacha.

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