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Homeless Children Having Time Of Their Lives At Camp Win

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- On Wednesday, a very special dance class was held for children dealing with living in homeless shelters.

It was part of a summer camp to help the kids stay active and have some fun.

CBS2's Cindy Hsu met the children from Camp Win who live in family shelters across New York City. But for the summer they are getting a chance to focus on just being kids. Professional dancers and choreographers from Broadway Dance Center are teaching them some new moves.

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When asked what she learned today with her dancing, 13-year-old Ijahnay Maynor said with a laugh, "That it's a lot of work."

Camp Win
CBS2 visited the happy campers of Camp Win on Aug. 29, 2018. (Photo: CBS2)

But Ijahnay also said it's lots of fun. Instructor Abdul Belle said that's the goal, and the kids are learning about a lot more than dance.

"Working as a team, confidence, being strong ... not afraid to be who you are no matter who's watching you," Belle said.

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About 1,000 children, ages 5 to 16, attend the non-profit summer-long program. They take lots of field trips that emphasize everything from science to culinary arts.

"It can just change your life, just because what they're doing for us ... it's like something kids don't have that. We're grateful to have it," 11-year-old Ja'nei Killings said.

According to the state, 1 in 10 New York City public school students face homelessness each year.

"It definitely provides them some form of comfort, I would say. You know they're our kids when they come into camp," Tanji Nelson said.

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While every student has their favorite camp memory, Maynor said she loved winning a cooking competition.

"I had made a cheesy chicken pasta with baby potatoes on the side," Ijahnay said, adding that she won first place and was happy about it.

And now she dreams of becoming a chef.

So who knows how many of these children may aspire to become dancers.

The children attend Camp Win for free, and the program is funded by donations.

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