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Students/Faculty News Stephen Lanzi April 17, 2024

Freedom-Friday-in-the-Park-FlyerMovement-to-Music (M2M) dance instructors will be helping adapt a community event series being hosted this summer by Women Under Construction Network to make it inclusive and accessible for all.

The inaugural Freedom Friday in the Park will be held on the first Friday of each month May-August from 5:30-7 p.m. at Avondale Park. Over 20 dance instructors will lead the women through movements, based on dances ranging from West African to Chinese, Salsa and everything in between. For each session, the organization’s CEO, Shellie Layne, said an M2M instructor will also be on stage to help adapt or interpret each movement for attendees with mobility limitations.

“I think Freedom Friday is a wonderful way to empower women of all abilities from all over Alabama to come together to have fun and relieve stress and be together for a strong mission to share the love of movement, music and community,” said Avery Vitemb, research coordinator and M2M instructor.

Women Under Construction Network is a Birmingham-based organization that serves women in 19 states with the mantra “repairing homes, building women, changing lives.” Layne says the organization’s missions is to do a little bit of home repair and a whole lot of life repair.

“Women traditionally are viewed as not being able to get along unfortunately,” Layne said. “It’s a stereotype of women that we can’t work together, and I would like to dismiss that myth. Even though we’re all different shades and have different backgrounds, we all deal with many of the same issues.”

Layne said the event was started to bring women from all backgrounds together “under one sky” and make Birmingham more culturally inclusive. The first installment of Freedom Friday will coincide with the 61st anniversary of the march on Birmingham for civil rights.

“The children marched together on Birmingham for freedoms past; women will dance together on Birmingham for freedoms future,” Layne said.

Vendors from all across Birmingham will be present to give women their power back through all aspects of the wellness domain – from physical to financial.

Through past initiatives with UAB, Layne said making the event inclusive to women with mobility limitations is especially important to her.

“We realize that the limited mobility community is in fact a community that needs just as much care as all the other communities we serve,” she said. “But because of mobility barriers we don’t always get a chance to bring them into all of what we do, so this uniting of women of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds and mobility allows us to do just that.”

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