Youth showcase their talents alongside Young Americans
CAMP ZAMA - Nearly 100 Camp Zama youth members performed alongside The Young Americans Feb. 26 inside Arnn Elementary School's cafeteria for community members, parents and guests.
The Young Americas' Director, Jason O'neal, said The Young Americans are a performing arts group that was started in 1967. In 1992, The Young Americans' mission changed and the group started doing music outreach programs.
The Young Americans are currently touring Japan, teaching young people about music and the performing arts.
"We go from school to school… teach a show and then do a performance," said O'neal.
"The purpose for this (program) is to go worldwide--to push and use music for outreach, and to help communities know why it's valuable to keep music in schools," O'neal stated.
As part of a 3-day workshop, Camp Zama's youth members learned about singing, dancing and theatre--on the 4th day, it was time to hit the stage.
"We taught them the gambit," said O'neal.
The youth members were taught how to sing together as a group, and perform choreographed dance routines with several types of dance styles in the routine, said O'neal.
"I was nervous before (the performance)," said 16-year-old Jaedon Baker, "but when I was up there… I said let's do it!"
Baker said he had never sung in front of people before, but it felt "good."
Andrea Hayward, 12, said the dance steps were difficult, but the more she practiced, the easier the steps became.
"It was fun," continued Hayward, "I want to do it again."
The performance included choreographed dances and melodies of famous songs from different eras.
Brion Kerry, a member of The Young Americans performing arts group, said he loves to sing, dance and work with kids.
"Being a Young American gives me the opportunity to share my passion," said Kerry.
"I want to show (the kids) what I can do and what they can do with a little bit of a push," Kerry continued.
Lena Battle, 14, said she met with The Young Americans for the first time during the workshop, but she feels like she has known the group since "forever."
O'neal said this outreach program allows The Young Americans the opportunity to teach singing and dancing to kids who are not that much younger than them. "(The kids) look to The Young Americans as mentors," said O'neal.
"The Young Americans get to be positive influences for the kids," commented O'neal.
Battle said practicing for the performance was not too hard because The Young Americans made it fun. "I made really strong bonds with them," said Battle.
Nicholas Andrews, the Camp Zama SKIESUnlimited (School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited) program director, was in charge of planning and coordinating The Young Americans Workshop and the performance.
Andrews said the workshop and the performance is important because it "gives so many kids exposure to the arts; this is something that the kids enjoy."
Andrews said planning the workshop and the performance was hard work but it was all worth it when parents and community members could see the outcome.
Andrews commented that there were kids on stage that he has never seen talk before, but during the performance, they were "so open."
"When the lights were shining on them they were so excited," said Andrews.
Some of the kids that performed have aspirations of becoming a future "Young American," said Andrews, and one former Camp Zama youth member, Mina Fisher, showed them that their aspirations are possible.
"She always told me 'I am going to be a Young American' and now, she is a Young American," said Andrews.
"I want the kids to take from this experience that you can have a good time and enjoy yourself doing any task," O'neal commented, "we use singing and dancing as the method to inspire kids to work hard."
"We hope that we can use what we do as a motivator--that no matter what you're doing you can always do your best," said O'neal.