Offered on week day afternoons from August to May each year, Happy HeARTS is our visual and performing arts educational programming designed to enhance the quality of life for our participants. All involved must be at least 3 years old and can participate well into later years of life.
A Vibrant and United Community
The focus of Merrimack Hall’s mission is to provide visual and performing arts education to children and adults with special needs, but the heart of Merrimack Hall is the community of lives that have been connected through the arts. The quality of life for people with special needs has been drastically improved by Merrimack Hall, as we work toward bringing the people we serve out of the shadows and into the life of our community.
Curriculums, created to meet our participants at their point of need, generate priceless amounts of self-confidence and cultivate creative independence on the floor of our dance studio, stage, or visual art spaces. Depending on the semester, we generally offer weekly classes in visual art, theatre, music, choir, tumbling, general fitness, dance, creative movement, hip hop, yoga and many, many more!
Our comprehensive, year-round activities improve the quality of life for hundreds of children and adults with a variety of disabilities and diagnoses such as Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairment and others. The long-term vision of Merrimack Hall remains focused on granting people with special needs typical social interactions and opportunities to participate in the visual and performing arts.
Everyone is free to express themselves and embrace their individuality while growing and learning together
Parents and family members of participants frequently praise Merrimack Hall for the unique nature of its elements and for helping their loved ones reach milestones previously thought impossible. We have both anecdotal and therapeutic evidence that many of our students are hitting milestones ahead of schedule, are behaving better at school and at home, are more confident, have improved communication skills and are more physically fit than before they joined us. First words are uttered on stage, first unassisted steps are taken, and lasting friends and fellowship are all celebrated for the miracles that they are at Merrimack Hall. We believe empowering these individuals to participate in meaningful arts related activities will give them increased independence skills and an improved overall quality of life.
Volunteers are critical to the success of our mission.
They work with our students in every aspect of the Happy Headquarters to learn music, art, and dance. More importantly, they serve as mentors and friends to their partners with special needs. In each class, we encourage our volunteers to interact with students in a meaningful way to create lasting friendships.
Our class calendar coincides with Huntsville City Schools’ academic calendar, meaning we have a Spring semester and a Fall semester of activities. Each semester lasts 16 weeks.
All classes are one hour in duration, are held on Monday thru Thursday in the afternoons after school lets out and are offered at Merrimack Hall.
Happy Artist is a dynamic, visual art class for our participants who want to use their hands create beautiful masterpieces using a variety of mediums. This class goes well beyond coloring pictures. Students in this class may make a ceramic bowl one week and an abstract, multimedia canvas piece the next. This class will stretch your participants imagination and foster their creative thinking to take their artwork to the next level.
Happy Actor is not a class for the faint of heart. The participants in this class will create, write, set, block, and star in our bi-annual showcases. In this class your participant will practice acting techniques, memorizing lines, and improvisation. If your participant enjoys the spotlight, then this is the class for them!
Happy Sprouts is a fun, high energy, rhythm and movement class for our youngest participants. This class is designed to create opportunities for our little ones to engage in the arts at a level that is developmentally appropriate for their age group. These classes center around dance, rhythm and movement but place a high value on the relationships formed between participants and their one-on-one volunteer as well as the friendships formed between the participants themselves.
Happy Dancer is the class that formed from the original Merrimack vision. In this class, your participant will learn techniques and moves from many styles of dance. They will practice their ballet positions as well as flow through contemporary choreography. This class is for anyone who loves to express themselves through all kids of music.
Happy Singer is a confidence boosting class in which your participant learns music fundamentals while practicing lyric memorization, performance etiquette, and vocal strategies. Happy Singer is a fun way for your participant to find and improve their singing voice to take to the big stage in our bi-annual showcases!
Happy Yogi is a class who’s physical benefits speak for itself. This is a calming class that focuses on balance, motor skills, flexibility, strength and more. Not only will Happy Yoga improve your participants overall physical fitness, it will also help to center their mind and soul.
Happy Tumbler is for our younger participants whose interest in movement goes beyond just dancing. Your participant will learn basic tumbling techniques and safety in order to perfect fun tricks. This class will help your participant build strength while working on control and following directions.
Happy Performers is our traveling “dance team”. The participants in this class will learn a handful of choreographed dance routines each semester to perform at events all over the southeast. This class does require a level of commitment beyond the weekly class schedule, however, if your participant loves to perform and has a passion for dance, this is the class for them!
Happy Muscles. Shall I say more? This class is centered around strength and physical fitness. In Happy Muscles, your participant will have the opportunity to learn many skills including but not limited to: push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, throwing a baseball, and being the last one standing in a competitive game of tag. Let’s get our heart rates up and let’s get moving!
Happy Hour is a class that we fondly refer to as our “variety hour”. This class offers a little bit of everything from jeopardy to talent shows, but no matter the activity we can promise there will be laughter and plenty of general silliness. If your participant is looking for some guided social activities and a whole lot of fun then Happy Hour is the class for them.
Happy Hip-Hopper is a class that brings a new level energy to the dance floor. In this class your participant will hone their hip-hop dance moves and wiggle to the beats of all of their favorite hip-hop and pop artists. Don’t let your participant miss their opportunity to learn all of the newest and most popular hip-hop dance moves.
Explore our other programs
Offered on weekdays throughout the calendar year, Merrimack Hall's Happy Days program is providing lasting and positive social connections to adults with special needs, aged 18 or older. Our enrolled participants enjoy enriching activities including music therapy, visual and performing arts, and social interactions that foster independence and nurture creative energies.
Join us during the month of June for our half-day performing arts camp for those with special needs, aged 3 or older. Energetic campers will have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities including music, theatre, dance, and arts & crafts. Each week of camp has a unique theme, culminating in a performance to showcase the skills learned during camp.