By Rachel Dove
WILLIAMSON – With a tireless dedication to her love for music, dance and the nearly forgotten art of feature twirling, Williamson resident Tonya Webb is committed to renewing public interest in these activities, while providing local girls with an opportunity to become involved in a worthwhile hobby.
Webb, who serves as a supervisor with the Williamson Department of Child Protective Services, knows all too well the importance of keeping youth involved in extracurricular activities.
She is an avid supporter of music and art programs, and says she truly believes that if children are provided more activities to be involved in, and the community helps support them, then there will be less drug use and displays of violence in children, and more doors that can open for them to go on to college and follow their dreams.
“Not all children are interested or able to play football, basketball or cheerleading, but if they are encouraged to do what they love or excel in, such as music, playing instruments, twirling a baton, dancing, acting, painting, etc., then it will help the child to have greater self-esteem, build confidence and go on to lead a successful productive life,” Webb said.
“We have such great undiscovered talent in this area, and it makes me sad to see children fall by the wayside just because the school doesn’t offer that program, or if they do offer it, it doesn’t get very much support,” she said. “The local marching bands are a prime example; they are a huge part of the school athletics, but yet get very minimal support. Yet, if you travel 30 minutes away from Pike or Mingo County, their music/arts programs are very supported, their bands hold anywhere from 100-200 members, including color guards (majorettes and flags) and are very well respected. A lot of children and parents do not realize that most colleges will offer scholarships for music, twirling, dancing, and even some arts/drama programs.
“I was approached by several parents over the last few years to begin teaching twirling/dance and, at first, I said no because I didn’t think there would be much interest in it. But, after thinking about it, I decided that it was worth offering the opportunity to a child, and even if only one showed up I could work with him or her and help them believe in themselves, then that is rewarding in itself.”
Webb started the “Billion Dollar Beauty Twirlers/Dancers” last year and had about 35 girls interested in the program, with most of them seeming to enjoy the experience. She had parents thanking her after parades for giving their child an opportunity to be seen and do something because most never would.
One child in particular that had really low self-esteem felt like she could not do anything, but after marching in her first parade, she hugged Webb and thanked her for “making her feel good about herself because she could do something.”
“To me, that is what it’s all about … that’s all the thanks I will ever need,” Webb said.
Webb was a former majorette at Belfry High School, but started twirling at the age of 6. She competed in numerous competitions and won several awards during that time. Her goal is to bring back twirlers, flags and color guards, and to encourage more children to participate in band so they can profit from this unique experience.
Classes are offered for girls between the ages of 5 and 13. This year, Webb is fortunate to have Mingo Central High School’s feature twirler, Lydia Hatfield, assisting her with instruction. Webb feels that Hatfield is a great role model for children, and since she has been twirling since she was 5 years old, feels confident she will be a tremendous asset.
“My goal this year is to not only do parades and halftime performances, but to put on a recital for the community to see how much talent these children really have,” Webb said. “Eventually, once the program grows, I would like for my twirlers to enter competitions elsewhere.”
If you are interested in having your children take the twirling/dance classes, they can contact Webb by phone at 304-235-5726, or through Facebook, by searching for “Billion Dollar Beauty Twirlers and Dancers.”