Mitzvah Hero: Dionna Dash, a recent Bat Mitzvah at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, puts her best foot forward not only as a dancer in the Pennsylvania Ballet Company’s past three productions of “The Nutcracker,” but also as an active volunteer at her school and a nonprofit that serves children with special needs.
What It’s All About: The Abington Junior High student has made an impact in TADA (Teens Against Drugs and Alcohol) at school, where she says the mission is to show that “you can do fun things without alcohol." The rising 8th grader has also been active in the Reading Olympics since 5th grade, part of a noncompetitive “contest” run by the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. What could be better, asks Dionna, than reading books? Well, maybe dancing. The ballerina — who portrayed an angel in the 2010 “Nutcracker," a Party Girl in the 2011 production, and a soldier last year — anticipates teaching the art to young kids after what she hopes will be a meaningful dancing career.
Not a One-Time Thing: The teen has also befriended a number of kids through her involvement with the Friendship Circle, in which she volunteers to expand the social circle of kids with special needs. It’s all win-win, says this winning teen: “I make a friend and they enjoy themselves with me,” says Dionna, whose brother, Arie, and sister, Halana, introduced her to the organization.
Good for Her: Working with the Friendship Circle squares with Dionna's desire to help others. “When you volunteer, it makes you feel good and you can see the effect on others,” says the youngster, daughter of Jeanette and Mark Dash of Glenside. “It gives me a better understanding about people with disabilities; it makes me a better person.” And, these friendships show her "that we’re all the same after all.”