Thriller In Ajijic
You might wonder what the mega star, Michael Jackson, who once ruled the airwaves and dance floors around the world and Jasmine, a young girl with special needs living in Mexico have in common. It’s the universal joy that music and dance bring to everyone regardless of language, money, or learning style.
In November 1982, Thriller came out and at the same time, Jackie Hartley and Roma Jones were leaving their hopes of a peaceful Mexican retirement behind and starting up a school for deaf children living around Lake Chapala. Thirty-five years later, the world celebrates and simultaneously dances to Thriller. The purpose isn’t just to dance, but to break down barriers of race, politics, economics, and religion. It’s those same barriers that The School for Special Children works to eliminate. The teachers and principal, many who have been at the school for over twenty years, perform a daily “dance” to show the children just what they are capable of and guide them to aspire to great things. The school has gone through many changes from the time when an old chicken coop was cleaned up and used as the first classroom. Deaf children with normal intelligence are now main streamed earlier. This has allowed the school to have space for a wide variety of children with special needs, such as Downs Syndrome and Austism. The physical plant now has seven well-maintained classrooms, a small computer lab, a library, and a free lunch program. But it’s the learning that makes it so special. And part of the educational program is fulfilled through music and dance. Michael Jackson would have been inspired by these young performers.
Watching the Ajijic zombies perform each year, you are encouraged by their appetite for more than human flesh. Their appetite for camaraderie, fun, and supporting charities is what is so obvious. You can find these same appetites for working together and having fun when you watch the children perform. For each holiday and special event, the staff brings joy to the students by helping them learn a dance, lip sync a song, and perform for their community. When the music starts, their faces light up and for those moments they are the stars who have learned something difficult and are giving this gift to the community. And for those few minutes, the community has a window into the special, integrated learning that loving happens within the walls of this school.
On October 28th, 2017 beginning at 5 p.m., hundreds will come together in Ajijic to join with millions of others around the world. They will celebrate Michael Jackson’s talent and raise money to support charities here at Lakeside. The School for Special Children is honored to have been chosen to receive a portion of the profits. The children are being given an opportunity to see that others care about them, appreciate how hard they work to meet their own learning goals, and acknowledge their aspirations to bring joy to everyone through music and dance.