Thalia Arvelaez, a teenager with Down syndrome, is at a dance camp in Tampa this week. In mid-July, she’ll be at Disney World, dancing for the National Down Syndrome Congress. In November, she heads to Argentina to dance and raise Down syndrome awareness. Thalia’s teacher says she is a joy to watch. Her mother says Thalia loves applause — and when people give her flowers!
Tampa, Florida – Among the tapping toes at this summer camp class at the Patel Conservatory, you’ll find a pair of fancy feet belonging to Thalia Arbelaez. She loves to dance-all types.
“I like ballet, hip-hop, jazz, tap,” Thalia starts ticking off the list.
Thalia knows she looks a bit different than her classmates and she refers to herself as “special”. The 17-year-old has Down syndrome, a genetic condition that changes a child’s development, and she was born with a host of health problems.
Alicia Arbelaez recalls what doctors told her shortly after her daughter’s birth. “The doctor come to tell me, ‘this child is never going to walk.’”
But walk Thalia did and dance lessons at age 2 soon followed.