Since 2007, Lisbeth Garces has sought to provide dance therapy exercise for people with disabilities in memory of her late son, Juan Carlos Garces, who suffered from Muscular Dystrophy. Lisbeth is certified in Zumba® Fitness, Zumba Gold® (for beginners and seniors), Zumba Toning® (body sculpting and high-energy cardio work) and ZumbAtomic® (for kids 4-12), Aqua Zumba®, and currently provides instruction at classes throughout San Diego County. She is also currently attending City College and working on a certification as a Fitness Specialist. She has already taken classes in areas such as first aid, CPR, Kinesiology, and fitness instruction. Lisbeth was one of the first Zumba® instructors in San Diego, and has built a regular following throughout the county with her Latin music-inspired professional, joyful, and inspiring classes.
Lisbeth was born in Venezuela, the youngest in a family of seven siblings. At the age of twenty she gave birth to her son Juan Carlos. After a couple of years she began to worry about physical changes in her son and began to think there was something wrong with him. In the small town where she lived, there were no medical resources available, so she took the advice of a doctor and drove her son to a pediatric hospital in Caracas to obtain a diagnosis. They received the devastating diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy. At this point Lisbeth decided to devote all her time and energy to improving her son's quality of life.
Lisbeth is not without personal experience in living with people with disabilities. Lisbeth's sister lives with cerebral palsy, and her mother suffered with Parkinson's before she passed away. Her sister did not receive any medical support or an education, and had no social interaction outside of the immediate family. She witnessed the slow decline in her mother's health while caring for her daughter. Having seen the disturbing way in which people with disabilities live in her native Venezuela, Lisbeth made a vow to give her son a life full of physical and social activities that would enrich his life. She made the courageous decision to leave her native country and come to the U.S. After holding a fundraiser to help pay for her and Juan Carlos' airfare to America, they arrived in San Diego hoping to find medical and social support. Lisbeth spoke no English and had no immediate source of income.
For the ten years of Juan Carlos' illness, Lisbeth worked and cared for her son. Knowing that his life could be cut short at any time, she sought out experiences that would enrich his physical and emotional life. She saw how meaningful it was for him to be a part of organized physical activity. He told her how empowered and joyful he felt when he took part in physical activity. Sadly, Juan Carlos passed away at the age of 15 from the debilitating effects of Muscular Dystrophy.
The totality of Lisbeth's life experiences began to merge after Juan Carlos' death. Returning to her love of dancing and Latin musical roots, Lisbeth became certified as a Zumba® instructor. As a natural trajectory, she began to teach low-income special needs students about the joy that can be achieved through joyful dance therapy exercise. Her repertoire expanded to people living with Down's syndrome, Parkinson's, autism, Muscular Dystrophy, even people in wheelchairs. She envisioned a program that would provide regular classes for people with disabilities. With drive, inspiration, and a gift for dance, she recruited a Board of Directors to form a new non-profit, Juan Carlos Organization, in May of 2012.
A 501 (c) (3) organization, the Juan Carlos Organization provides dance therapy exercise for the special-needs community, putting into action her son Juan Carlos' words: "Being active makes me feel most like a regular person." Lisbeth's life experiences give her unique insight into this need, as well as a vision for how to meet it. This personal connection feeds the passion she feels for the Juan Carlos Organization's mission: "To strengthen the physical and mental health of special needs students of all ages through regular participation in joyful dance therapy exercise." This mission is guided by Lisbeth's connection with her special-needs students, who come alive with the Latin and International high-energy music and dance moves. Her students build physical fitness, strength, and alertness. They exhibit self-confidence and self-esteem, and their communication skills often improve. Above all, this is one way in which Lisbeth is able to recreate the joy and inspiration that she enjoyed with her own son. This passion is what drives and inspires Lisbeth's life.
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Copyright© 2013 Juan Carlos Organization. All Rights Reserved. Juan Carlos Organization is a not-for-profit organization. Articles of Incorporation classifying the Juan Carlos Organization as a tax-exempt, non-profit with 501(c)(3) status were approved on May 4th, 2012 by the California Secretary of State, and the organization became IRS approved on September 21, 2012, retroactive to May 4th, 2012. See the IRS Determination Letter.