Thanks to The Winona Early Childhood Initiative (WECI), the granting and fundraising branch of the Winona Area Birth to Grade Three Program, Jamie Schwaba, Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA) Managing Director and Adaptive Dance Instructor is now a certified Rhythm Works Integrative Dance Instructor.

Rhythm Works Integrative Dance is a clinically based hip hop dance program that utilizes sensory processing, kinesiology, and behavioral analysis as a foundation to build customizable classes for the students. “The purpose of such a comprehensive program is to provide our certified teachers with the tools and education necessary to effectively make a difference in their student’s lives,” said Tricia Gomez, Global Director of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance.  “Emerging research is showing that movement, music, and rhythm, when combined, light up the brain in ways that create new neuropathways. Dance is a powerful modality that offers an opportunity to build social, emotional, cognitive, and motor skills. Plus it’s tons of fun!”

Since 2014 yearly participation in arts experiences on-site at MCA by children 8 and under has grown almost 200% (from around 100 students in 2014-15 to nearly 300 during the 2017-18 school year) with many additional young children & families touched through community outreach and performances. Since Fall of 2016 MCA has been partnering with Home & Community Options to offer an Adult Adaptive Dance Class and as our early childhood programs have grown we have seen an a huge increase in young students who have learning differences and have special needs participating. Students diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Autism, low muscle tone, developmental delays, Epilespsy and hearing impairments are thriving in our programs. However, MCA staff has lacked formal training in working with students with special needs until now. Funds from WECI not only provided funds for the certification course but also for a package of unique teaching visual aids that are being used to enhance the learning experience for all dancers at MCA especially for young children.

MCA’s classes are open to students of all ages and abilities however, it is MCA’s hope to provide an adaptive dance class just for youth with special learning needs in the near future. If you have family member would be interested in youth adaptive dance class or adult adaptive dance classes in collaboration with HCO please contact Jamie at

About Winona Early Childhood Initiative

The Winona Early Childhood Initiative began in 2006.  Recently the WECI has focused its attention on: providing information about the importance of early childhood education; raising funds that can be distributed locally to support innovation, access and professional development of early childhood programs and providers and connecting Winona to statewide initiatives. For more information or to make a donation to the WECI contact Maureen Marek at

About Rhythm Works Integrative Dance  

Global Director Tricia Gomez is the creator of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance, Hip Hop In a Box, and the Hip Hop Made Easy programs offered in over 2100 studios and schools worldwide. Gomez is considered a pioneer in the youth hip hop dance field.  Her unique hip hop teaching methods have landed her on the “Dr. Phil Show,” and as the head judge of the TV show “Dance Revolution.” Tricia is now a consultant for the Disney Performing Arts Program where she has the honor of working with dancers from around the world.  Previously, Gomez has worked in the studio setting as a teacher and studio owner for over 20 years.