"Hearts in Harmony" continues mission to create group where "everyone belongs"

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A new show choir for high school students held its end-of-the season performance Monday night, showcasing talented Chippewa Valley students with special needs.

Now "Hearts in Harmony" is carrying on a mission to create a place where everyone belongs.

“No dancing dad!” says Thea Lenhart, laughing with her dad, Ned. "Twist and shout, twist and shout!" sings Ned in response.

Like most 16-year-olds, Thea kept the dancing her and her team, and like most dads, Ned was in the crowd cheering her on Monday night.

"Thea watched her older sisters perform in Chi-Hi Harmonics and she said I want to do this!” Ned explains about how his daughter, Thea got her start in show choir.

Last year, Thea and her dad found the perfect opportunity. For nearly two decades Linda Johnson was the director of “Special Angels,” a show choir group for students with special needs.

But after Johnson decided to retire, “She really encouraged us to do something bigger for all of the students, high school students in the Chippewa Valley,” explains Ned.

That’s when “Hearts in Harmony” was formed, carrying on Johnson’s mission to create a place where everyone belongs.

“What we wanted is to give students a with all abilities a chance to be included and have a place to go after school to dance and appreciate music and as you can tell they have a good time,” says Shauna Eilts
Director of “Hearts in Harmony.”

“I think for us as parents of special needs kids, we want them to have the social aspect of them being able to come together with their peers, sing and dance," adds Ned.

Though Monday night showcased the new groups last performance of the season, there are no plans of stopping there.

“What I am so excited about is being with all my friends out there dancing with me,” says Thea.

“They have a special gift to offer that can be found nowhere else and when you see their smiles and the joy that they have in offering their gift, it just lights up the whole room,” says Ned.