Wheelchair dance team for young girls featured at weekend expo

There is a free family event this Saturday designed to increase the awareness of adaptive sports in our area. And a group of girls on a wheelchair dance team will be there for a repeat performance.

Sami Gibson’s daughter, Mayli, was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair to get around. But she also loves to dance much like every other little girl her age.

Mayli inspired her mom to form the Ayita Wheelchair Dance Team. Gibson said she couldn’t find any other place where her daughter could use her wheelchair to express herself and just dance.

“I couldn’t find one in our area so I just decided to start it and we were lucky enough to have a lot of people interested in it,” she said.

There are now about 10 girls on the team that’s based out of Benbrook, near Fort Worth. Gibson said the name Ayita comes from the Cherokee word for first to dance.

When asked why she loves to dance so much, Mayli said she couldn’t really explain it.

“It just really speaks to me. And I just started when I was like 3,” she said.

The team is about dance but also so much more. Another dance mom said she left in tears after her daughter’s first class. She was just so happy to find a place where her little girl could feel like a little girl.

“We dance but, you know, they’re free to be themselves. They’re not the only one in a chair when they get to class. They get to kind of lean on each other and help each other,” Gibson said.

The Ayita Wheelchair Dance Team performed at the UT Southwestern Adaptive Sports Expo last year and will be there again this weekend.

In addition to dance, the expo features adaptive basketball, volleyball, fencing, tennis and more. It’s free and open to the public – wheelchair or not.