Therapeutic Dance Program Centers on Positivity

Students from PEP's therapeutic dance program pose together

Therapeutic Dance Program Centers on Positivity

Thursday is LaMiah’s favorite day of the week. That’s the day that Dezi Marlow comes to PEP Chesnutt to lead a therapeutic dance program. Over the last several years, Marlow, an independent licensed therapist, and owner of D.A.N.C.E. Therapy LLC, has partnered with PEP to bring his dance program to different Day Treatment Centers. At PEP Chesnutt, Marlow works with the three youngest classrooms and with the older students who are interested.

“It’s fun. It gets me pumped up. It gets us energized,” says LaMiah with a big smile.

Life Lessons

While the students do spend a lot of time working on their dance moves, they spend an almost equal amount of time learning life lessons. Marlow is brimming with optimism and is constantly reminding them to stay positive. He teaches them that they have the power to overcome the challenges they face.

In between each song you can hear Marlow dispensing pearls of wisdom:

  • Think about how you want your future to be.
  • What you focus on is what expands.
  • You have control over your thoughts.
  • Sometimes our past keeps us from being happy. We deserve to be happy.
  • When we focus on overcoming our struggles, we do better.

The kids are engaged and happy. They listen to everything he says. After his lesson on perseverance, the group works on a choreographed dance with short breaks throughout to feature each dancer.


Leadership Skills Emerge through Dance

LaMiah’s joy while dancing is evident.

The program has been particularly impactful for LaMiah. Deanna Sabur, clinical coordinator at PEP Chesnutt, says LaMiah’s self-confidence has increased since she started participating in the therapeutic dance program. She has also developed leadership skills, often helping with other students.

“Remember when Annie* used to come down to the gym and she would just stand over to the side?” Sabur asks LaMiah. “You worked with her. You were a mentor to her and now she jumps right in.” LaMiah’s small, shy smile is all you need to see to understand that she knows very well that she is the reason for Annie’s transformation.

“I mentor kids and it’s fun doing it,” she says. “They love me because I’m positive and I’m good at it. It feels good to be a role model.”

LaMiah plans to graduate this spring and is looking forward to what the future holds. As she contemplates what’s next, she will take with her the lessons she learned at PEP Chesnutt and in the therapeutic dance program. Regardless of where her path leads, her positivity and leadership skills will benefit her. And for that she thanks her mentor, Dezi Marlow.

Learn More

For more information about PEP, visit our website. Contact Nicole Molnar, clinical coordinator, at 216-361-7760 ext. 110 or via email to see if a student in your district may be a good fit for Positive Education Program.

Please note, referrals to PEP’s Day Treatment Centers are made through school districts in consultation with parents. Interested parents or caregivers should contact their school administrator.