|The Save Our Streets Team: Outreach Workers, Violence Interrupters and Program Manager|
The Save Our Streets "Increase the Peace" community talent showcase on April 28th had 14 wonderful acts, all of them local, Crown Heights, teens. S.O.S. and the Brooklyn Blizzards organized the afternoon of talent and fun at PS 289.
The singers and MCs displayed amazing talent and creativity, the dancers were expressive and exciting and the cultural acts showed the skill and discipline of long hours of training. The performers were thoughtful and engaged. They all performed with the theme of PEACE in mind.
Some artists even incorporated the theme of "Increase the Peace" into their artistic expressions. One rapper ever wore an "I Support S.O.S. tee shirt" as he moved around the stage. People were in awe of the stilt walkers as they skipped up and down the aisles dancing and making people gasp. The show was spectacular. But for us, the real story, the real star of the show, was the audience.
The 250 or so people who attended were loud and enthusiastic. They were obviously having a great time but the extraordinary thing about that audience was its collective kindness and generosity. While there was special applause and cheering from the pockets of family and friends of the performers when they were introduced, there were tremendous ovations for every performer when they finished their acts.
Every performer received authentic approval from the audience. When a young MC twice lost his place and forgot the lines to his rap, the audience cheered and encouraged him to keep going, which he did. Getting through that difficult on-stage moment earned him a huge expression of appreciation and support from the audience. He was overcome with pride and love for the performers and for the audience of mostly teenage kids from Crown Heights who showed such compassion and gratitude for the offerings of their peers.
Ruby-Beth Buitekant, Case Manager of Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.) said, "We are aware of the criticisms that young people face of being seen as uncaring, uninterested and disconnected. Just spend an afternoon watching young people express themselves so positively and it's easy to see that there's so much talent and positive energy that simply needs an opportunity to come out. "
We'll remember all of the performers on that stage and in that audience on that day and speak only with love, hope and respect.
The Crown Heights Community Mediation Center's own Ife Charles hosted the event. She tossed tee-shirts and other prizes to the crowd when they correctly answered questions about S.O.S. She led the crowd in cheering for the S.O.S. Outreach workers and Violence Interrupters. She also made so many silly jokes that audience members had to wipe their cheeks of tears! She was the ultimate hostess.
Thank you to everyone that made the day such a huge success. Special thank you to Anthony Newerls for his leadership and the success of the events!