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Our parents taught all of us to be honest and kind, warned us about all the bad habits... But kids, especially teenagers, have always been defiant to a certain extent and can be attracted to a fashionable forbidden fruit…
The thing is that children don't always look up to teachers or parents. An opinion of a friend or a teenage idol is often far more valuable.
So imagine a 400-seat concert hall of a regional clubhouse full of teenagers. Young rockers have taken over the stage and are singing songs live that are full of positivity and give happiness. In a space of an hour the kids become fascinated with the musicians and queue up for autographs for a whole hour afterwards.
The members of Zaporozhye Christian band NDay are fluent in the language of music, on occasion supplementing it with a few phrases. Everyone understands this language, both children and adults.
NDay’s songs have much more of an impact on kids than the dry lectures about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. It’s not the words that are important but the people delivering them and their manner.
NDay called their new album "We Got the Light". On April 24, 2013 the light was beamed onto the teens from the Mikhailovsky region. The local authorities provided the culture house as a venue, whereas the "Happy Child" charity foundation has provided financial and organisational assistance with transport for both the band and the attending kids. The concert was attended by 32 children residing at Molochansk Boarding School, 12 adults from Mikhailovka Psychoneurological Boarding School, kids from villages of Burchak and Lubimovka, and also pupils from Mikhailovka schools, students and anyone else who wished to attend.
We are ever so grateful to Elena Ivanovna Denisenko, Director of the Social Services Centre in the Mikhailovsky region. If it wasn’t for her, this event would not have been possible.
I would like to share a few things with you that amazed me in the run up to the concert.
Firstly, it’s the panic of educational leaders when a “Christian band” is mentioned. Why would one be put off by religious musicians? Their music does not suffer from this. Our President and senior officials are not hiding the fact that they are religious, quite the opposite - the Christianization of Kievan Rus has never been celebrated with such pomp as this year. So why are people so scared of “Christian” anything? What if it was a Buddhist band, would that cause an even greater panic? Children would come to listen to some music, if the music is enjoyable then what difference does it make whether it’s Buddhist, Islamic or Christian?
The concert did not preach for any religion - instead the songs praise universal values. I personally got an impression that it would be much easier to invite kids to listen to songs of the likes of “I’ll Kill You Boatman” (90s hit song) or “Don’t **** My Brain” (these definitely contain no religious propaganda!) rather than show them something positive and teach them to love their neighbour.
Another discovery stems from the first one: a certain dislike that our officials have taken to the protestant churches specifically. Trust me, there are affiliates of all kinds of confessions amongst the employees and volunteers of our Foundation - we have Orthodox, Protestant, Buddhists and spiritual people - but we are all puzzled why is it that only the “official” religion is allowed to have access to media and cultural events. Unlikely that such discrimination is in keeping with the Commandments.
And finally, it is a shame that, as far as we can see, that school administrations are reluctant to devote enough time and effort to extracurricular activities and assist with events. For example, before the concert in Mikhailovka I phoned a head teacher of a local school four times to invite children to attend, the response was always very encouraging. 20 minutes before the concert was due to start it emerged that just three pupils were going to attend - out of 400. I couldn’t believe the turnout could be so low, so I made an announcement myself to the senior pupils. The majority of kids agreed to attend immediately (60 pupils of that school attended in the end). At the same school that’s a minute walk away from the clubhouse I was told how difficult it would be to arrange the paperwork for such a ‘long-distance’ trip. This shows how much the school administration is averse to initiative, extra responsibility and paperwork.
The same things happen when we arrange trips: we invite children to take a hike with us via head teachers - we are then assured that a school-wide announcement has been made and 2-3 kids want to attend. But when we talk to children directly more than half of each year is willing to come to our events. This means that many head teachers are taking a passive stance and do not motivate kids to go beyond the school gate instead of motivating them to lead active and healthy lifestyles.
If you do want more children, especially those from rural areas, to attend quality live music events and get some positive energy, then please support a joint project of NDay, Tema Club and “Happy Child” charity foundation. We are planning to stage such concerts in towns of Tokmak, Pologi, Kuybyshevo and other regional centers.
The event’s cost is low but the joy it brings is brought to many children at once. The only costs we need to cover are transport for the band and equipment (75-112 US dollars) and transport for the children from nearby boarding schools/orphanages and remote villages (this costs between 37-187 US dollars). If you want to make a donation or help out, please contact Fund’s employees.
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