Valley Life for All column: Book honors Eva, who won’t let cerebral palsy stop her from dancing
Valley Life for All
Editor’s note: The Aspen Times, in conjunction with Valley Life for All, continues a monthly series of profiles to increase the understanding and power of true inclusion.
“Let me try it.”
These words are the embodiment of who Eva is to Nancy Bo Flood, a local author who has written a book about Eva called “I Will Dance.” Eva, the main character in Flood’s children’s book, has cerebral palsy and is unable to move most of her muscles.
Flood was introduced to Eva through her daughter-in-law, Gretchen, the director of Young Dance, an all-inclusive dance company. Flood watched one of the classes and immediately noticed Eva among all the dancers.
“It was the joy on her face,” Flood recalls. “In that class, I saw all kinds of disabilities, invisible and visible. I thought, ’They really mean it when they say they’re an inclusive community of dancers.’ All were valued for who they were and what they could contribute.”
But it was Eva’s tenacity and joy that captured Flood, an award-winning author, and Eva’s journey of becoming a dancer turned into a children’s book about inclusion for those who are disabled and have dreams. “I Will Dance” was published this year.
“Eva had something of value to contribute, unique to Eva: a person first, then Eva, a person in a powered wheelchair,” says Flood from her mountain home.
“I Will Dance” is a vibrant book depicting Eva’s desire to dance. Eva sees able-bodied dancers but also those with challenges. She’s wary but persevered, eventually dancing in her wheelchair before an audience.
“’Let me try,’ that’s what I see in Eva,” says Flood. “She’d do it on her terms, and with each try, she’d risk a little bit more. The result was not only moving around the dance floor, but that she was not alone, it was not pretend, it was not imagine.”
Flood recalls her first time really taking note of a child with a disability.
“In my son’s elementary class, there was a boy in a wheelchair who had no movement and no language. Every morning, the teacher would let a student tell this boy a joke, and he would laugh. I thought, oh, he wants to be a part of this class just as much as any kid does. That’s what Eva wanted, too: to be a part of the community. Isn’t that what we all want? To do what we love and be a part of our community?”
Nancy Jo Flood’s book “I Will Dance” can be found at The Bookworm in Edwards, Glenwood Toys and Gifts in Glenwood Springs, Sawyer’s Closet in Carbondale and on Amazon.
Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Request a training or join the conversation at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or #voicability4all. Help us redefine the perception of challenge.
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