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Local Dancers to Shake-It for a Stigma-Free Paramus

A community group has worked to make Paramus one of the nation's first stigma-free zones and to help raise awareness of mental illness.

Paramus became the nation’s second ‘stigma-free zone’, following the lead of Hoboken, in the summer of 2013.

In an effort to raise such awareness, the initiative, spearheaded by Paramus’ own Mary Ann Uzzi, is planning a number of programs and events designed to educate people.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, dance groups from the area will join together for a special choreographed performance entitled “Let’s Help” at the Paramus Park Mall to call attention to the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone project

Dancers are expected from Paramus High School, Mariann’s School of Dance, Center Stage Dance Studio and the Ridgewood High School Dance Company.

“As an artist and teacher, I truly believe in advocacy through the arts and see this as a natural way to address the issues within our community,” said Jennifer Landa, choreographer of the performance. “It has been wonderful to see the dancers and teachers here in Paramus collaborate and have the opportunity to share their work, their thoughts, and their feelings on the issue.”

Landa is a long time Paramus resident and dance professional who has personal experience with mental illness and has herself benefited from counseling during a stressful time in her life. She is the lead choreographer of the dance project, along with Claudine Ranieri, Ann Marie Coelho, and Mariann Paul.

The Paramus Stigma-Free Zone is a community initiative to improve the lives of those who are afflicted by mental illness and to create public education and awareness. 

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