NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Nearly half of all New York City elementary-school children are not at a healthy weight.

But some professional dancers are showing students not only how to be active, but how to follow their dreams.

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Members of Soul Steps, the professional step-dancing company, shared their love of this unique art form with students from P.S. 18 and P.S. 277 in the Bronx. In addition to performing, the dancers explained the history of step dance.

“In the late 1800s, South African miners weren’t permitted to speak with one another, so they used rhythm as a form of communication,” Soul Steps Founder Maxine Lyle told CBS 2’s Dana Tyler. “They would slap the sides of their boots to create rhythms, and that rhythm was their language so that they were able to communicate without their bosses knowing.”

Raised in Newark, New Jersey, Lyle belonged to a step team in college in Massachusetts and wanted to continue after graduation. But because she couldn’t find outlets to do so, she founded Soul Steps in 2005.

“Rhythm is universal,” Lyle continued. “It goes beyond language barriers, class barriers and race barriers.”

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Speaking of barriers, Lyle tells young people to never let anyone stand in the way of realizing their goals.

The students couldn’t wait to take center stage, because for most of them it was their first-ever opportunity to step dance.

“I liked the routines that they did and the rhythm,” student Destiny Rodriguez said.

Next year, Soul Steps plans to travel to Spain and Budapest, where dancers will continue to spread their love of dance with young people.

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Is this a great initiative or what? Shouldn’t more schools bring in professional dancers to promote principles of healthy living? Offer your thoughts and comments below…