Young Band Members Raising Funds for Kids”
From the Grove Examiner, Calgary Alberta Canada
Six local kids – united by their passion for music – are looking beyond their individual and collective dreams for rock stardom, using their musical prowess to help needy kids their ages.
The Descendants – a local group of young musicians who have been playing together for more than three years – features six musically talented youth ages 10 to 13. Together with The Connection – a band formed by six local recording artists, many whom are family members of The Descendents – the group will perform at the Kids for Kids, Families for Families Benefit Concert.
Organizers hope to raise $50,000 for two charities which provide education and food for children in need: CAUSE Kids and E4C Alberta.
The event is the brainchild of Lennore Huddleston, mother of The Descendants’ keyboardist and drummer. She came up with the idea while enrolled in the Self-Expression and Leadership Program offered through Landmark Education. As part of the course curriculum, students were required to develop a community project. With her family’s extensive musical talent and experience, Huddleston accepted this as the perfect opportunity to plan an event her whole family could be involved in and passionate about.
“Education is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty. When children are hungry, trying to learn becomes even more difficult,” Lennore says. “When I had the opportunity to create a project that would make a difference to the communities by providing food and support for educational programs, it seemed a natural thing to do.”
Huddleston became aware of CAUSE Kids – a Canadian-based organization operating education programs in Sierra Leone , West Africa – through a friend who worked with the agency. Huddleston contacted CAUSE to see if her idea would fit with the agency’s goals. The organization immediately and enthusiastically embraced her vision.
“CAUSE…very much appreciates people who want to raise money to assist communities where we work,” says CAUSE Kids’ Canadian program manager, Travis Wilkins.
“It is great The Descendants are choosing to make a difference in Sierra Leone . Even more inspiring – these are young people working to make our world a better place. The concert is going to be amazing, and CAUSE appreciates all the hard work being put into it.”
According to the UN, Sierra Leone is rated as one of the most disadvantaged countries in the world. From 1991 to 2002, the country was engaged in a horrific, civil conflict in which a small band of rebels held the country hostage.
Characterized by child conscription, rape, amputations and other methods of brutal torture, the conflict resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, causing a third of the population to become refugees.
CAUSE Kids’ first phase of its program focuses on the Koinadugu district – the largest and poorest district in the country. More than 50,000 school-aged children – many whom are orphaned – live in the area.
“Without some form of intervention breaking the poverty cycle, a child…is unlikely to have access to formal education, is quite likely to be impoverished and will probably not live beyond his or her ’40s,” Wilkins says.
“CAUSE provides many direct and tangible opportunities to communities in the Koinadugu district. Children get a quality education and adequate nutrition, local people are trained and employed, water and infrastructure projects are undertaken and social and economic spin-offs are seen throughout the region.”
Although Huddleston was excited about helping kids overseas, she could not ignore the starving children within her own community. She decided to use the concert as a means to raise funds for local kids as well.
“Our kids are very fortunate to live in Canada and to have all privileges that come about as a result,” Huddleston says.
“While I wanted them to be grateful for what they have and where they live, I also wanted them to understand poverty is not something that only exists overseas; it’s here, in our own backyards. This is an opportunity for our kids to use their artistic abilities to help others less fortunate.”
Huddleston approached E4C Alberta (E4C), and the agency immediately jumped on board.
“We are delighted to be part of this exciting event,” says E4C executive director, Michael Farris. “The fact it is kids helping other kids makes it even more meaningful for us.”
EFC Alberta – a non-profit, human services organization operating 15 programs to fight poverty – started Edmonton ‘s School Lunch Program in 1993. The program offers hot meals in 13 inner-city schools. In 2006, the program served approximately 404,950 well-balanced meals to students from kindergarten to grade six.
“The program continues to grow due to the great need in our community,” says Farris, adding one in five children in Edmonton live in poverty.
“Our goal is to help provide children with nutritious food so they can concentrate on school work and not on their hungry tummies.”
Kids for Kids, Families for Families will feature a 45-minute set by The Descendants, followed by a collaboration of songs performed by The Connection. Proceeds from the event will be split evenly between the two charities. Those who attend the festival will also have the opportunity to sponsor children in Sierra Leone through CAUSE Kids.
The two bands collaborated to produce a CD of original songs, written and produced specifically for this benefit. The CD – released in May – will be on sale at the concert. Proceeds will be shared between CAUSE and E4C.
The Descendants is so-named because all band members are offspring of highly musical parents with extensive song-writing and performance histories. The band, which is coached by the members’ parents, was one of the finalists in the 2007 Futures Fest Battle of the Bands Competition.
Kids for Kids, Families for Families takes place at 8 p.m. at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton on June 22. For tickets ($20), call 470-4236.
Information about CAUSE Kids and E4C is available at the agencies’ websites – causekids.ca and e4calberta.org.