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Autumn Mt. Scott 'AIR Dance' draws record number of revelers

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - PP&R Adaptive & Inclusive Recreation Program Supervisor, Debbie Timmins welcomes guests, as 'DJ Tom' stands ready to play more dance music.There’s not a lot of opportunity for youth and adults with special needs or disabilities to dance, socialize, and to enjoy a party in typical settings.

But, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) – through their “Adapted & Inclusive Recreation” (AIR) programs and activities – help these special neighbors find new ways to use their leisure time in ways that enhance their health, well-being, and independence.

One such event is the monthly “AIR Dance” held at Mt. Scott Community Center. Returning after a summer hiatus on Friday night, October 5, organizers said it was the best-attended dance to date.

In the community center’s large meeting room, a capacity crowd of revelers danced to popular music played by “DJ Tom” Farley of Tunes to Go.

“I been doing this for 27 years,” Farley told THE BEE. “I just love the people. And, I really enjoy seeing them enjoy themselves here, in a safe environment. Many of them have never been to a nightclub. But here, they make friends and meet people they know, and enjoy all kinds of music.

“I like to entertain – and they like to be entertained – that’s why I do it,” Farley added.

Although the general public may be unaware of the AIR Dance, it’s been a first-Friday-night-of-the-month tradition for decades.

“It was going on before I became involved in it in 1980,” remarked PP&R Adaptive & Inclusive Recreation Program Supervisor Debbie Timmins.

“The dance is the social event for the community,” Timmons said. “It’s like a high school dance every month. Many of our guests are getting to experience something here that they might not have ever done before.”

Plus, it gives both the participants and their caregivers an opportunity to see one another on a regular basis, Timmons went on. “All of this makes it a very important social event for them. It’s a chance to get people together in a really good environment.”

Anyone at least 16 years old, living within the Tri-County area, who has a disability or special need, is welcome to come to the dance. The “cover charge” is $5 – with no charge for accompanying caregivers, who must stay to assist their clients, unless prior arrangements have been made. That’s because the PP&R staff is unable to provide restroom or bus stop assistance.

For more information about AIR, visit their Internet website: HYPERLINK "http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/index.cfm?c=39830" www.portlandonline.com/parks/index.cfm?c=39830 – or call 503/823-4328.