Zumbathon raising money for young, talented students

By ALYSSA FOLAND, staff reporter

Zumbathon is coming to Ellensburg to raise money for the oldest and largest scholarship program for female high school students in the nation.

This year, Fabiola Serra has chosen to donate the money to the Distinguished Young Women College Scholarship Program.

The Zumbathon is also known as Zumba for a cause. The idea is to get more people involved in Zumba, while simultaneously raising money for charity.

Serra, director of the local dance group, TusuyPeru, is a local Zumba instructor who is hosting her second Zumbathon on April 13 at the Hal Holmes Center.

She has been dancing for much of her life and has been involved in Zumba since she moved to Washington State from Peru. She has a passion for dance in its many forms.

“[DYWCSP] is a program that is a lot of times misunderstood,” Serra said. “A lot of times people think it’s just like a pageant or something like that, but it is not. It is a challenge for young women to compete in a healthy environment for a scholarship. It has nothing to do with looks.”

The ladies competing for the scholarship are juniors in high school. They are meant to compete through scholastics, as well as a show of talent, and must also demonstrate a fitness routine like Zumba.

“It involves fitness,” Serra said. “It involves women. It kind of goes together.”

The scholarship program helps create female leaders and Zumba helps women find their confidence. Central Washington University student Kayleen Durant said one of her Zumba instructors urged her to become certified to teach Zumba, which boosted her confidence because someone saw her as a leader.

“I think that it creates people who have more self-esteem, more self-confidence,” Durant said. “Especially when you’re in a social setting and there’s dancing involved, and people don’t necessarily think that they know they have any rhythm or anything.”

Zumba is about creativity, originality and having fun. It is designed to be enjoyable like a fitness party. Jessica McKean, a local Zumba instructor, wants her students to get a good workout, give a lot of energy and have a good time doing it.

“Once people kind of get it, all the sudden you see them come out of their shell and add their own things into it,” McKean said.

Zumba is open to both sexes. Serra said they are trying to attract both men and women of any age.

“It is always nice to get more people involved,” Serra said. “That’s why we want everybody to come and at least have a taste of what Zumba is.”

Zumba is not just for fitness, according to Serra. It is meant to exercise your mind as well. As you gain more confidence with your body and how you move, you also begin to improve your knowledge of rhythm and dance.

“It all, of course, works your body, works your rhythm, works your self-loving, your confidence,” Serra said.

Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes, and so does fitness. Instructors like Serra, Durant and McKean believe Zumba is meant for anybody.

The message is to be comfortable in your own skin, and the same idea extends to the distinguished young women competing for the scholarship award.

“I hope that girls will see that you can work out and you can be healthy and you can be in shape and not have that, you know, perfect prized body,” Durant said.