Blue Devils Getting The Special Needs Word Out


from The Concordian

Since 1957, the Blue Devils have been keeping rhythm with coordinated movements while continuously winning world championship competitions. A proud group of men and women ages 8-21 are receiving quality music and dance education and immeasurable performance experience while performing with the Blue Devils. Now, with the instructional guidance of Annette Odello, the Blue Devils are reaching out and beginning a dynamic program, the Special Needs Winter Color Guard.

"For a number of years we would travel back to our Nationals in Dayton, Ohio and there is a special group from Florida that would perform. And I was just impressed with the impact it had on my students; they were watching those kids and cheering them on," said Odello. "I wanted to make a program available to all kids. Annette enlisted the help of her cousin Liz Lamach who conceived the idea to build Matteo's Dream - A Playground for Children of All Abilities. Together they have been reaching out with news of the program and are hoping to have a team ready to perform at the California Color Guard Circuit Championships on March 31, 2012.

The first practice for the Special Needs students was held on October 17 at the New Life Christian Fellowship in Concord. The energy in the room was radiating; the contemporary music mixed with Annette's expressive style of teaching fueled the students' enthusiasm. Vicky Halliday watch has her 19-year-old daughter, Andrea, smiled and stepped in time with the others. "I wanted to be in activities that involve moving and coordination," commented Halliday. Andrea attended the class with her friend Abby, also 19. "She needs activities", said Abby's mom, Marie Townsend. The two friends are involved in a multitude of activities year-round the also help develop coordination and build social skills like soccer, baseball, and swimming.

The participants will gain certitude in themselves they perform and receive applause the audience; a huge confidence boost. "It's an area the special needs kids don't have readily available to them," shared Odello.

For more information about the Blue Devils and this amazing program, go to

- Kathy Weires

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