The TCU chapter of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) hosted its 8th annual Chance to Dance event, a prom-like event for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. This event is unique and unlike any other where those with intellectual and developmental disabilities come together with students, make new friends, reconnect with old ones and have all-around genuine fun.
“Events like these are what makes TCU, TCU,” said Mark Cohen, associate athletics director for strategic and football communications at TCU. Cohen attended the event with his two sons who have autism. “Adam and Steven look forward to this event each year and begin a daily countdown reminder the closer they get to the big day.”
This year’s event had the largest turnout in history since, due to COVID restraints over the last two years, events like this one were unable to be held. NSSLHA TCU chapter’s vice president Brooke Johnson organized the event with the support of fellow chapter officers and members as well as faculty advisors Irmgard Payne and Karen Hennington. In addition, they garnered partnerships with local organizations and school districts to reach those individuals the event was for. Over 60 guests enjoyed a fun-filled night of dancing and meeting new people along with a special guest appearance by SuperFrog.
“It was a one hundred percent all-hands-on-deck environment,” Johnson recalled. “It was amazing to witness the effort everyone put in and how invested they were to make it an unforgettable night for our guests.”
Chance to Dance was established in 2014 by TCU Davies School of Communication Sciences & Disorders (COSD) alum and current Harris College Health Sciences Ph.D. student Courtney Garcia-Trevino ’15 (MS ’17). Garcia-Trevino recruited friends to volunteer and solicit community donations to host the inaugural event. The following year, she asked NSSLHA to partner with her so the event could be held annually after she graduated. NSSLHA has sponsored the event in the spring semester ever since.
“Bringing people from all walks of life together to be in community, socializing and dancing with one another – it was incredible,” said Johnson.
The TCU chapter of NSSLHA includes undergraduate students in the Davies School of (COSD). Students who will go on to be future speech-language pathologists, audiologists or teachers of the deaf.
“Experiencing Chance to Dance further solidified that I had made the right choice to pursue Speech-Pathology and work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Johnson. “Socializing with everyone at the event and seeing the joy on their faces to be part of something bigger than themselves was priceless. I am so grateful for TCU and the educational opportunities I have been provided here – in and outside the classroom.”
The NSSLHA chapter is already looking forward to hosting the event again next spring, with hopes of continuing to make the event bigger and better each year.