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Humans of Dance for All Bodies: Tina Ybarra

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Tina Ybarra was born in Colima Colima, Mexico. When she was 5 years old, she lost her legs in a train accident. “My parents sent me to the USA to get better medical care and an education, but really wanted me to have a chance to make something of my life as a young girl without legs,” Tina expressed.

Photo of Tina, age 5, in the hospital, holding guitar

When Tina came to the United States, she did not know English; however, she quickly caught on because she has always been a social butterfly. She enjoys traveling to her native country of Mexico and expressed that she was grateful for the sacrifice her parents made for her because she has been given much opportunity in America.

In 1984, Tina carried the Olympic torch in Los Angeles, California. The 1984 Olympics were opened by President Ronald Reagan in which Tina was able to meet. Tina was also the “I Can” poster child for the National Organization of Disabilities (NOD). NOD is a non-profit organization that promotes the full participation and contributions of America’s 56

million people with disabilities in all aspects of life. They provide access to the latest research and information on disability employment issues through publications, and now training webinars.

Photo of Tina with Olympic Torch, I Can Poster, and with Ronald Reagan

From 1989-1996, Tina was a modeling instructor and free-lance model for JeanPierre International Models, a talent agency located in Oakland, California. She was Miss Wheelchair California in 1991 and 1992.

Photos of Tina modeling and as Miss Wheelchair California

With encouragement from the Bay Area Outreach Program (BORP), a provider and promoter of adaptive sports and accessible recreation for children and adults with physical disabilities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, Tina began to participate in wheelchair sports including but not limited to cycling and basketball. She now teaches a fitness class for BORP titled Rumba with Tina.

Photos of Tina cycling and playing basketball

When asked about dance, Tina expressed that “dance to me means, excitement, movement, and expression.” Tina has always loved dancing and had an all wheelchair dance group called the “Dynamics” in the 1980s. Tina heard about Dance for All Bodies from Yagmur, one of the founders of the organization. She met Yagmur in a fitness class and she invited Tina to a Dance for All Bodies Class, and “was instantly hooked.” Tina remarked, “Dance for All Bodies has impacted my life for the variety of instructors and dance styles presented while struggling in these uncertain times.”

Photo of the wheelchair dance group "Dynamics"

Thank you Tina for the energy, warmth, and vivacity you bring to our classes. You are a beautiful human both inside and out. Thank you for sharing your story and supporting in a more connected community.

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