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Debut summer camp celebrates talents of those with special needs in Nashville

PHOTO: The Project-FOX 17 News Nashville

A one-of-a kind dance program makes its debut in Nashville this week, and its goal is to spread joy through movement.

"The Project: The Summer Camp" is a dance program designed specifically for individuals with Down syndrome in Music City

It's empowering those with special needs to show just how extraordinarily talented they truly are.

Being inside the Young Life house on Music Row, it's hard not to smile. The energy there is contagious. On a Tuesday morning, a full dance party is underway.

"Well my favorite part is dancing with all different kinds of people," explains Brittany Meyer, one of 13 participants ages 14 and up.

The Project is a meeting of the minds between Lauren Beasley and Megan Jayroe, two dear friends who grew up dancing together, and have a special place in their hearts for individuals with Down syndrome.

"I honestly believe that people with disabilities are not disabled, that is not a term that comes to mind at all," explains Jayroe, a special education teacher. "They are special human beings that deserve all of the opportunities that we have."

"I grew up dancing and loved it, and wanted to create a place where people from all different walks of life could get the same experience I had," says Founder and Artistic Director Beasley. "It's been a long time in the making and it's finally coming to life."

All this week, the group is practicing choreography to the song "The Middle."

Their work is leading up to a music video shoot on Friday.

"I think it would be really awesome to do a music video because it will be my first time doing it," says Meyer. "I've seen a bunch of music videos on TV, but I'm really, really excited to do one."

"I hope they just remember this as the most fun week of their entire summer, and that they want to show the music video to all their friends when they go back to school or their friends at work, I think it'll be a good thing for them to brag about," says Beasley.

Beasley's end goal is to create a full time space right here in Nashville for programming.

She says, for now, this is just the first of many more smaller projects to come.

If you know someone who would like to get involved in The Project, or if you'd like to donate, visit thisistheproject.org

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