BOISE - A group of dancers recently took to the streets of downtown Boise in an effort to help promote understanding, respect, and a more compassionate community.
The Open Arms Dance Project is a dance troupe for all ages and all abilities. Megan Brandel came up with the idea about 10 years ago.
Their work begins in the dance studio.
"Relating to each other, respecting each other, listening to each other's ideas and making dance pieces that way," Megan explained. "This is the part of the year where we take it all out to to the greater community and we hope that's where it all comes through and opens hearts all around us."
And that's just what is happening.
"I think so often people with disabilities fade off into the background and in the shadows," Megan said. "It's been really beautiful to bring all of these people who don't get looked at directly, and acknowledged and get noticed right out into the light."
This performance spanned downtown from JUMP to the Anne Frank Memorial.
Shayla and her brother Marcus have been dancing with the project for years.
"It's pretty cool because all of these people are so inclusive and so friendly and so kind," Shayla said. "It taught me how big our community is of people with disabilities and people with amazing abilities.
"And it taught me that everyone is beautiful, everyone can show their hearts," she added.
Keely is also a long time member of the group.
"I just love to dance," she said. "It opened me up to a point where I can feel whatever I want and do whatever I want."
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was even there to watch the group's most recent performance.
"I hope by having our group so diverse with ages and abilities that we can model a community," Megan said. "And what a really healthy community looks like."
This dance troupe is truly having an impact.
"When we perform and people haven't seen a group like this, we always have people who cry," Megan said. "I think it just opens their hearts to see so many people included."