• Proud to be from Pittsburgh: Dancing Classrooms

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    PITTSBURGH - A dance program in Pittsburgh schools is not only helping bridge the gap between neighborhoods, but helping to transform students’ lives.

    At Sister Thea Bowman Academy in Wilkinsburg, dance class has become a requirement for its students.

    Since 2009, 4,000 children from 20 local schools have benefited from Dancing Classrooms, a Pittsburgh Mercy Arts in Education program.

    While this may be called “dance class,” the true goal behind the program is to teach the dancers team work, discipline and respect, along with forging friendships that break down neighborhood and cultural barriers. 

    “You might think it is not related to bridging gaps in neighborhoods and prevention, but it really is,” Sister Thea Bowman Academy Principal Rita Canton said.

    “Girls in this class--I was a little weird about them.  But, since I started dancing.  I'm cool with them,” student Bailey Smith said.

    Canton said this program brings students from Wilkinsburg, Homewood, Woodland Hills, Penn Hills and other various places together.

    “It teaches them to give people a chance.  How to collaborate, and how to be on one team even though you are seemingly very different,” Canton said.

    Dancing Classrooms has also helped build bonds between young Israelis and Palestinians in Jaffa, and Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. 

    “They're learning to dance, but they're learning to engage others appropriately, to make the right decisions,” said Mercy Prevention Services’ Mark Rogalsky.

    To find out more about the program, click HERE

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