Throughout a 30-minute session on a Friday night in March, Filippo can’t contain his excitement for what’s coming next. On Fridays, Fitness for Health contracts with ZamDance, a local program that leads a high-impact dance fitness class for kids and adults with special needs. Participants can pay a drop-in fee or buy a package of one-hour sessions. 

Every minute or two during his session with Sickel, Filippo exclaims to anyone who will listen: “ZamDance!” Sickel replies each time, “Yeah, ZamDance,” and continues working with the boy, keeping him on task. Filippo jumps up and down on the trampoline as Sickel tosses colored rings to him. After he catches a ring, the boy hops over to the same colored cone on the trampoline and places the ring on it. Later he tosses a 6-pound SandBell weight—a soft, neoprene weight filled with sand—into large tubes, depending on where a light flashes. He runs up a sloped and padded mat along the wall to snag letters of the alphabet. 

Finally, ZamDance founder Jackie Zamora arrives and begins to set up. Filippo stands patiently to the side, facing the same direction as Zamora, toward the handful of other awaiting dancers. The lights go off. Everyone glows in the dark, and a fast, loud beat emits throughout the room. “ZamDance!” Filippo exclaims. He begins to move his feet side to side. 

Melanie Padgett Powers is a freelance writer and editor in Silver Spring