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This world famous ballet dancer got her start in this program

Misty Copeland gives thanks to the Boys & Girls Clubs

She is the first African American to be named the principal dancer in the history of the American Ballet Theatre, but before she was a star on stage Misty Copeland grew up attending the Boys & Girls Club. Copeland joined the show today alongside Boys and Girls Clubs’ Youth of the Year Josias Reynoso to talk about the impact the program has had on their lives.

Copeland joined the Boys & Girls Clubs at 11. She said the club was a safe space for her mother to be able to send her 6 children while she was working several jobs to support her family. “It has given me an understanding of what it means to be a leader” Copeland said. It also introduced her to classical ballet at 13 years old.

Josias Reynoso was chosen from more than 4 million club members to become the Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year. He joined when he was 15, after taking over as leader of the STEM program.

Reynoso talked about his experience on the autism spectrum, and how he often faced discrimination and people who tried to force their own standards onto him. He says the Boys & Girls Clubs developed him into a leader rather than a follower, and he hopes to be able to help other kids find their potential.

Watch the video above to see what Copeland had to say when Tati asked her about what she’s been doing during the pandemic because stage performances are canceled.