A group of Brooklyn teens in a high school music program is organizing a wide-ranging cultural appreciation day in Gravesend next month.
Students in the Avenue Music Group program at Life Academy for Film and Music are creating a multicultural celebration day they are calling “For the Culture,” set for June 2. Their mentor and the executive director of the program, Joshua Walker, said the students are thrilled to spearhead a day honoring diverse cultures in light of the country’s political climate, he said.
“These kids felt that there’s been a really negative interpretation of race and cultures in our country, and they wanted to put together an event where people of minority backgrounds can embrace their cultures, and learn something else about another person’s culture,” said Walker.
The 12 teenagers in the program, mostly freshmen and sophomores from different parts of Brooklyn, are from mostly first or second-generation families and of Caribbean and West African descent, according to Walker. He added that the youngsters reached out to other schools in their district, hoping to bring together diverse school bodies for a day of fun, exploration, and cultural exchange. One focus will be sharing the diverse offerings from local ethnic restaurants.
“The endgame is to have an event where we bring together the community to experience different cultures, and one of the main aspects is food, so the students have been reaching out to different restaurants and a range of food of different places to participate,” said Walker.
Avenue Music Group is an educational program which Walker founded in 2013, that focuses on preparing teens for college, jobs, and careers.
In addition to a variety of food, the four-hour event, which will be held on the Lafayette Campus football field, will have games, sporting activities, musical entertainment, and prize giveaways.
The students are currently fund-raising for the event and aim for $20,000, said Walker. The group has already raised $2,200, and with the help of sponsors, local businesses, and door-to-door donations, and they hope to meet a minimum goal to produce the event.
“We need at least $5,000, but even if we don’t hit that goal, we will still have the event,” he said. “No matter what number we get, we may cut a few things out, but we’re still going to put on something.”
Staff and administrators at the high school have been supportive of the teens’ project, according to Walker.
“They’ve been a huge help in spreading the word, and they love the idea — they’re all very excited and the kids got the support of their principal and teachers,” he said.
Walker said that the teens were the ones who conceived of the event, and it reflects the program’s objective of inspiring students to give back to the community.
“Going into this program, our main goal is to change the mindset of these students and instill positive thinking where they can be inspired to start a change,” he said. “This is their vision and they believe in it, and we’re just guiding them.”
“For the Culture” at Lafayette Educational Campus Football Field [2630 Benson Ave. between 27th Avenue and Bay 43rd Street. June 2, 2–6 pm. Free. GoFundMe Link: www.gofun