Vote for Hope

Photo Credit: Author 
This is me with Jane Weiner, Executive/Artistic Director of Hope Stone Inc. (and the lovely Oliver!) right before I left to be a Dance Major at ASU. Summer 2006.
About halfway through high school, my dance teacher at Lamar recruited me to consider joining an after-school dance, theater, and music program called “Kidsplay” at a dance studio called Hope Stone Inc. , and I have been a Hope Stone supporter ever since. I recently suggested that my sis-in-law enroll my niece in the creative movement class there because Hope’s classes are just different than anything else out there – the whole studio is a unique, organic, and wonderful place to be, full of lively, loving people who are all dedicated to spreading art, life, and love through generations of creativity and wellness.

I could go on about how wonderful Hope is as a studio and as a community hub. But what I really want to write about in this post is my experience in the Kidsplay program. Because with the cut-backs in federal and state funding for the arts, and personal donations to non-profits like Hope Stone dwindling in a rough economy, Hope Stone and the Kidsplay program are relying on community support to earn funding through the Pepsi Refresh Project, and I need your help voting!

Here is my experience with Kidsplay – and why you should take one minute of your time today (and maybe once or twice per day for the next week. . . pretty please?) to vote for Hope Stone Inc. to receive the funding they need to continue providing arts education and life inspiration to kids in Houston and New Orleans through their Kidsplay programs. 

When I started with Kidsplay, I had been dancing for years, but I watched kids and teens who had never had training before growing through movement – executing modern dance combinations under Jane Weiner‘s fun-loving and inspirational dance instruction. Through theater games and improvisational work, we learned about trust, respect, and collaboration – and Gayla watched, listened, and led us as we released our emotions and teenage angst through journaling, discussion, and creativity. I know we all felt a little strange in our first music class with (the wonderful) Terrence Karn, sitting around in a circle with drums and doing rhythm exercises – but as the weeks went on, we all started to feel what a blessing it was to be able to connect and make music together with our bodies and our voices, and we started to feel connected to the world in a different way because of it.

KidsPlay is a program like no other. Unlike many extra-curricular programs out there. there are no auditions, and there is no exclusion. You don’t have to have a specific talent. And you can’t pay your way in, either. In fact, most Kidsplay students are on full scholarship to the program. The only expectation for the young people that participate is that they will do just that: participate. But the work that is produced as a result of that participation is mind-blowing. Life changing stuff.

I participated in Kidsplay for three years, and then worked as a volunteer intern at Hope Stone for a few more. While I was pregnant with Abbey, I had the pleasure of working with Jane not only in work with Kidsplay, but in assisting with See Me, a production of Hope Stone’s professional modern dance company. If you have had the pleasure of seeing Hope Stone Dance live, you know that it’s an awesome experience. If you live in the Houston area and you haven’t seen Hope Stone Dance, go see it! (Their current project is entitled Lemonade Stand) – Jane’s choreography speaks on so many levels, and is always wonderful, fun and entertaining.

My experience with Hope Stone and Kidsplay are dear to my heart, and they continue to influence me on a daily basis. I have always struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, but part of my continued recovery has been the realization that I can let go of pain through creativity, and that no matter how crazy the world seems, there is always an invitation to hope, and a place for peace in my heart.

Kidsplay now ranks #34 on the list of projects vying for $25,000 funding. We’ve been steadily moving up the list, but with only 8 days left to vote, we need your help to make it to #1. Can you help today by taking a minute to vote? All you need is a few seconds and a facebook account (or an email address).

Vote for Hope Stone via the internet on the Pepsi Refresh Page once per day for the next 8 days. This literally takes 5 seconds when you use your facebook account.

Vote for Hope Stone via SMS by texting 108525 to PEPSI (73774) once per day for the next 8 days.

If you want to be super-awesome, you can vote once on the internet and once via text message per day for the next 8 days. That’s maybe a 60-second comittment – not a lot of time, but it could help out a LOT of children and continue an awesome program that spreads hope, love, and art and gives life to groups of children that otherwise would never be able to participate in anything like this.

Thanks, friends! Much love!

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