High Steppers

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COLUMBIA - It's not football, theater or even chess club, but Rolando Barry hopes to garner more attention for an extracurricular activity for kids of all ages.

Barry said Missouri High Steppers has more than one mission. "Not just steppin, but their academics, their personal development, Barry said. "All this goes into play with what we are doing with the high steppers."

Barry has been stepping for 33 years. He started as a 13-year-old boy in the inner city of St. Louis. The Boys and Girls club was his outlet.

Upon moving to Columbia, he created the Missouri High Steppers to be an outlet for inner city children.

"Trying to fill the gap. Do something and give children the opportunity," said Barry.

With no funding, the High Steppers cannot expand or even take on more children.

Over the years Barry has provided most of the instruments and has to require parents to purchase parts of the uniforms.

To top it off, practice space is limited to when a gym is available.

"For the years that we have been doing High Steppers we have always been a guest at someone else's house."

The Missouri High Steppers have moved around from school gyms to parking lots when the weather permits to warming up before performances to count as practice when space is limited.

With years of dedication Barry has not given up in hard times or with few kids. "I hear a parent say Mr. Row you changed my son's or daughter's life," Barry said.

"That time we spend with the students is the most valuable time." Despite the hard times, Barry still drills the students with the Missouri High Steppers Creed.

"I am responsible for the decisions I make in this life. I am the one who determines who I am, what I do and what I will become. Compassion and hard work are my tenets. Gentleness and resoluteness my hallmark.

I will strive to maintain a positive attitude about life, to work hard at every task I undertake and to persevere in the face of life's difficulties.

I pledge to be a role model to others and to make empathy and kindness my personal guiding light. Suaviter in modo, Fortiter in re. Gentle in manner, resolute in deed."

With this positive attitude, Barry hopes to keep the High Steppers afloat and moving higher.

To find out how to donate go to the Missouri High Steppers website.