Foundation seeks to help children with disabilities and underprivileged kids
As a Hispanic business mother of twin sons who were both diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Maria Lupe Ibarra-Smith set out to provide therapeutic services to improve the quality of life for children with special needs as well as underprivileged children. Thats the focus of the Jewels of Youth (JOY) Foundation, which she founded.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based nonprofit helps children with all types of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Down and other syndromes, Global Developmental Delays, Dyslexia Brian Injury, Allergies and Autism. JOY Foundation provides essential services for all children, most of whom live in the local community.
From Dancing to Volunteerism
A native of Jalisco, México, Ibarra-Smith immigrated to the United States with her family at age 7. My lifes journey thus far has been an amazing one. I was raised in a family woven together with love, strength and commitment, Ibarra-Smith recalls. Working in the fields along side my family and with other families helped to give me a unique perspective on life.
Dance has always been an important part of her life. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater and dance at the California State University of Sacramento. She has also studied with The Martha Graham School of Dance, Alvin Alley Dance Company, Sacramento Black Art of Dance Company and Jazzy Dance Company. Ibarra-Smith has choreographed many dance pieces in addition to being a performer, touring throughout the U.S. as a dancer.
For the past 20 years, Ibarra-Smith has dedicated herself to the education of children in dance and fitness. Her love for the art of dance, motivated her to start her own Hispanic business a dance studio, which allows her to teach hundreds of students of all ages. Her unique dance program enhances each childs physical and creative development. Ibarra-Smiths desires and visions are to cultivate a lifelong appreciation of dance and enhance the creative experience of instructional dance for each student.