Thanks to YWCA FutureVision AmeriCorps member Rebecca Harmon for this wonderful report and beautiful photos from LEAF:
I have had the pleasure of working with LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) Schools & Streets artists now for the 3rd time since I have been in AmeriCorps and with YWCA FutureVision. Each time our kids have participated in the workshop with an artist for 3 days prior to the festival, and then they perform at LEAF, on stage in front of tons of smiling faces.
This year, by far, was the largest fan turnout. Partly being that the group, Boukman Eksperyans (the main LSS band from Haiti) is extremely popular and our kids, YWCA FutureVision Middle and High School, are also extremely popular. The workshop gave us an insight into the hype of this band and into the hype of their mission. The Boukmans worldly high-energy sound, fusing traditional Haitian and Caribbean rhythms with rock and reggae, encouraged the fan-filled crowd to do nothing but boogie down to music our kids were making.
With proud eyes and boosted egos, our girls danced and jived all over that stage to chants and cheers of onlookers. Our drummers looked to the band members such as Bwa Gris, Lolo, Natacha, and Paul for guidance through their sets as they shook the stage with beats.
As wet-eyed counselors exchanged glances through the soul-shaking experience, our vision in that instant was clear. These beautiful teens onstage were, in that moment, a testimony to what our program does for kids and what leaders are capable of. We motivate and we set examples; we teach values and ethics. We get bogged down in the day to day, then we get to see our children succeed and flourish in a life-changing experience with incredible people who have traveled the world in search of this moment and then we all come to the realization: they are amazing.