As a child and now as a teenager, one inspirational young woman from Holt is using dance to help change lives for the better.
For 19-year-old Emma McLaughlin, the dance floor is home. In fact, she says it's the place she feels most comfortable and most like herself.
“I dance with my own attitude… I can just be as me,” Emma said.
Knowing that, this group of local girls from Dance Fusion in Holt invited Emma to join their talented team so she could pursue her dream of dancing competitively.
“They accept Emma for who she is not who she isn't”, said Emma's mom, Mary Sue McLaughlin.
McLaughlin says she always supported Emma's goal of getting on-stage to perform. Even with the all challenges and doubters, the two often had to fittingly “dance around”. @
“As a mother, you always want your child to succeed somehow, and because Emma has down syndrome, it doesn't diminish my hopes for her to be successful, productive and happy… and she is,” McLaughlin said.
You can see that happiness up-close in Emma's smile, something she wears daily on the dance floor. It was never bigger then when she made her competition debut earlier this year.
“I turned around to my parents and they put a metal around my neck… they gave me a loud applause,” Emma said.
“She can learn. She doesn't have to be on the bench because of her disability. She can get out there and be herself and it's amazing to see the change of heart in teenagers,” said Emma's coach, Randy-Kay Anthony
Count on Emma teaching that lesson now and every step of the way as a dancer, a daughter, and a true friend for us all.
This fall, Emma starts her freshman year at Lansing Community College. The first class she's looking forward to taking? Dance. If you'd like to show your support for Emma and the Dance Fusion team, they have a special social media page here.