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Step dance team provides bullying prevention mentorship

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 7:49 PM EDT
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PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Step dancing is about more than just rehearsals, routines, and performances.

When the Martin family of Pitt County first moved to the Greenville area, they noticed their son Ethan was having trouble focusing, making friends in school and regulating his behavior.

That all changed when Mary Martin discovered the HYPE Crew step dancing team.

HYPE was founded by North Pitt High School Assistant Principal Willie Joyner and has been providing extracurricular activities and mentorship opportunities to students since 1995.

“The stress of a move and losing their friends and kind of wanting things to be normal again just caused normal childhood angst and step gave him an outlet for that,” said Martin.

The troupe is open to community children from elementary to high school.

Martin says with her son being her oldest child, it was difficult for her to find a good role model for him that is closer in age than his father.

Ethan’s teammates and coaches quickly fit the bill.

“There’s nothing in the world that’s more powerful than a kid being able to model themselves after someone who has been making good choices in their life and has been lifting other people up,” said Martin.

HYPE Crew isn’t the only source of mentorship for younger students through stepping.

Rodrayius McClure is a member of ECU’s Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and performs with their step team.

“We work with kids in middle school, elementary, even some in high school,” said McClure. “And we have Guide Right and we have Kappa League that we work with.”

He feels rewarded when he is able to set a good example for younger steppers and students.

“Just going back and giving back to the community... it’s always great to see the young kids and to help them out with more than what we had,” said McClure.

The pandemic put a pause on many extracurricular activities like step dancing but both Martin and McClure’s teams are back to performing.

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