Students take part in Best Buddies dance

More than 125 students with and without disabilities attended a Feb. 8 Best Buddies Regional Dance in the Maui High School gymnasium.

Maui High and five other schools participated: Lokelani Intermediate School, Baldwin High School, King Kekaulike High School, Lahainaluna High School and Seabury Hall. Attendees were invited to dress as their favorite Disney characters.

The purpose of the dance was to provide students with moderate intellectual and developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other conditions the opportunity to attend a dance with fellow students from their schools without disabilities. All students were offered a free dinner and dessert; a free photo booth took photos of all the students.

The event was organized by almost entirely by Maui High School senior Dayna Yoshimura, according to a news release from Best Buddies Hawaii. Yoshimura, who secured more than $1,600 in cash and in-kind donations, thought the dance would provide important opportunities for social interaction. In addition, she organized a group of teacher-volunteers and county government employees to help out as dance chaperons.

Yoshimura was inspired to organize the dance in honor of her friend Kaitlyn Hiromoto, a special-needs student at Maui High.