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A dancer with a mission in the Bronx

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How one ballerina is using her passion to serve those in need

Melissa arrived in New York City to follow her dream of being a professional dancer. One day, while she was on the train, something occurred to her that she had never thought of before: In her dance classes, she had never seen people with disabilities. She wondered, where do they take dance classes? Is there a place for them?

Melissa discovered a new world, and a new way of making her dream a reality. She founded “Born Dancing,” a dance program for young people who have mental or physical disabilities or who are socially disadvantaged. She works in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods, especially in the Bronx, where the children she serves often do not even have money for a subway ticket.

Dance has become her mission, at the service of the most vulnerable: “The experience we offer isn’t just about dance; it opens the eyes of your mind,” she said, “to see the people and things around you, to work together, and to create relationships.

“With this mentality,” she said, “you can change the world.”

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