Online dance studio for children takes flight
A public-welfare online dance studio run by a hearing-impaired dancer, targeting children with or without hearing loss, has been launched at the Shanghai Songjiang Media Center recently.
The online studio is an extension of the brick-and-mortar Tianjiao Dance Studio, China's first dance community exclusively for both children with or without hearing loss.
"The pandemic reduces my frequency of meeting the children, so it's important to launch an online studio," said Zhang Tianjiao, the 25-year-old studio instructor.
Zhang has been using a hearing aid since childhood and can speak but can better express herself as a dancer though her steps, postures and facial expressions. She demonstrated her skills at the launch ceremony.
The project, together with the physical dance studio that was set up in the Changshou Road subdistrict office two years ago, is supported by Switzerland's Sonova Group, a provider of hearing care solutions.
Liu Qi, deputy editor-in-chief at Shanghai Daily, said the event had been part of a constant effort by the newspaper, in collaboration with the government, enterprises, media organizations and other institutions, to contribute to charity works.
"Tianjiao Online Dance Studio at the Songjiang Media Center today has allowed more children to have an opportunity to receive their first dance schooling," said Liu.
"Joint efforts from all parties helped create the feathers those lovely angels need on their wings in order to fly."
Zhang lost a profound part of her hearing due to a childhood medical incident. But she developed an enthusiasm for dancing and never gave up. She has been supported in this endeavor by hearing aids from Phonak, a Sonova brand. In 2013 her dancing performance in "Chinese Dream," a reality TV show featuring dreams of grassroots people in China, won her praise.
But Zhang's dream is beyond her own personal achievements.
In March 22, 2019, the Tianjiao Dance Studio was set up in Putuo District. The dance community provides free training for children with or without hearing impairment every quarter. Each quarterly section lasts for two days.
In 2020 the studio was forced to suspend training due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then Shanghai Daily and Sonova had been thinking about a solution. An online dance studio was finally on the agenda.
Since April, 12 dance instruction videos by Zhang have been posted online in succession on the "Shanghai Songjiang" app, a converged media platform launched by the Shanghai Songjiang Media Center.
"We launched the project at the Songjiang Media Center, not only because Songjiang is a land of rapid science and technology development and innovation, but also because of our previous collaboration with the district's disabled persons' federation for serving the hearing-impaired," said Li Yaqing, director of project division department, Sonova Hearing Technology (Shanghai) Co.
The collaboration dates back to 2015. Since then, Sonova Shanghai has been sending staff to its maintenance office in Songjiang, or to the district's township or neighborhood committees, to offer audio-phone prescriptions or maintenance services, said Xu Junfeng, chief of the rehabilitation center for persons with disabilities in Songjiang.
"The disabled persons' federation and Sonova (Shanghai) are further negotiating on offering hearing-impaired persons a backup hearing aid when their hearing aids are absent and sent back for maintenance," Xu added.
It is estimated that the district has about 24,000 disabled persons. The number of hearing impaired people accounts for about 10 percent, according to Xu.
"As the origin of the G60 High-tech Corridor vision, Songjiang welcomes events like today's," said Lu Zhongxin, deputy director of the Songjiang Publicity Department. "Advanced technologies represented by products from Sonova allow us to recognize the power of technologies, not only in their strength of empowering a country, but also in their strength of improving people's everyday life and their well-being."
According to statistics from the World Health Organization and the second national disabled person sampling survey in China, there are 466 million hearing-impaired people around the world. The yearly increase of children with hearing loss is about 60,000 in China.
The successful launch of the Tianjiao Dance Studio in Shanghai will pave the way for the institution's further expansion nationwide and the coverage of benefits to more children with or without hearing loss.