PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- A group of Peekskill girls are stepping up in a big way.
Sandy Allen is the step advisor for the Peekskill Community Stepper's, a group of girls who perform stepping, a type of dance. Recently, the group performed at the Drum Hill Senior Living Complex that featured Mayor Frank Catalina appearing as Santa Claus.
"We go to a lot of nursing homes and churches," Allen said. "It is such a beautiful thing. The elderly really love it."
Allen lives in Dunbar Heights on Highland Avenue in Peekskill, where most of the girls live as well.
"Dunbar Heights has a bad reputation, but these kids are awesome," Allen said. "They are really good kids and great to the community."
In stepping, dancers move with their hands and their feet and in between perform skits. Allen has only been doing this current incarnation of the group since September and has girls from five to 15. She said she loves performing at nursing homes.
"They are overwhelmed," said Allen (her daughter does the choreography). "They clap and have big smiles on their faces. We believe in spreading the love and making people feel good."
Stepping has helped increased many of the dancers' confidence and has made them less shy, Allen said.
"One of the girls parents called and asked me to tell her to stop stepping around the house," Allen said. "They step as they get off the bus, they step as their walking. They can't stop until they lie down."
Allen requires the dancers to show her their progress reports and Allen helps them with their homework.
"One girl went from a 70 average to a 90 average," Allen said. "I make sure that school always comes first. I want to help change these kids in a positive way."
At Dunbar, kids don't have a playground and the community room is empty.
"They are welcome to join the team," Allen said. "There is no fee. We raise money for uniforms. The kids love it."
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