HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (PIX11) — As PIX11 News continues to celebrate Black History Month, one former school security guard is building a legacy in her community through dance. 

Denise Howell spent 34 years working in Hempstead schools, first as a teacher’s assistant and then as a security guard. 

Her father, Dr. Reverend Joseph Jesse Howell was a prominent fixture in the Hempstead community. In his memory, her mission is to carry on his legacy of building up the community. She says dance is the perfect vehicle to accomplish that goal. 

After noticing that most of the programs catered to boys, Howell began the Youth and Teen Dance Company in 2014 to help girls ages 4 to 19 in the underserved Hempstead community. 

Now retired, her goal is to help youth and teens achieve their dreams. The free program is made possible with the help of volunteers and donations. Howell says dance is like therapy. 

Over the years, their talent has produced pageant winners, awards, and numerous opportunities to perform on big stages. Most recently, the dance team performed at the Charlotte Hornets game in North Carolina. In the coming weeks, the dance team may be headed south to perform for the Atlanta Hawks.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Youth and Teen Dance Company, visit them on Facebook and Instagram.