Life in the South Bronx, the nation's most impoverished congressional district, can be hard. To find a way out and build a favourable life takes more than trusting to luck. Being given the chance to attend the right school and meet people who care is as crucial as having determination and the belief that you can make a good life for yourself. Kang Jia from myWorld America is one such person who cares. He wants to encourage young people to fight for a better future and to show them that they are loved.
"To live without my music, would be impossible to do, in this world of troubles, my music pulls me through" – these words may be true for John Miles, but they also apply to the children of the "Haven Kids Rock Music Program". This is an after school programme for at-risk kids in the New York City child welfare and foster care systems. The programme resides at Mott Haven Academy Charter School in the South Bronx, a first-of-its-kind charter school under the New York Foundling. One third of the students are from foster homes, another third were "involved" with the foster care system (aka: Preventive Services) and another third have come from the neighbourhood. The academic record at Haven Academy, which opened in 2008, is impressive, far better than the traditional school across the road. The Academy's annual student return rate of 95% is also striking and can be credited to the highly structured and supportive school structure. This is an outstanding achievement when you consider that it is funded by donations from the government and the public.
In cooperation with the Child and Family Foundation Kang Jia organised an "Angel for a Day" event, the second one to take place in New York, to encourage these underprivileged foster children to strive to achieve their goals and give them a day filled with fun, laughter and happiness.
As the children recently performed their own musical about their lives, the highlight of this "Angel for A day" was going to see a Broadway musical. Kang Jia's aim was for the children to be able to watch professional musicians and see for themselves what they can achieve if they work hard and follow their dreams.
The afternoon started at the McCaffrey Hall of the Church of Holy Cross, a historical site, which is known as the "crossroads of the world" – which is apt, as the kids are currently at a crossroads in their lives: they have to decide whether to push hard and move on to a prosperous life or be stuck in the unglamorous neighbourhood of the South Bronx.
A light lunch, which included Subway sandwiches, created a nice atmosphere for chatting and bonding. Before setting out, the children were given a little surprise: a bag filled with little gifts. To get to the New Amsterdam Theatre for the show, they had to cross Times Square, which caused great excitement amongst the youngsters. The show began at 1:30pm and the beauty, magic and comedy of the breath-taking spectacle had the youngsters enthralled from start to finish.
The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all, including the team of myWorld America: "We are glad to get the opportunity to treat some well deserving children to a wonderful day of lunch, play and a Broadway musical, especially since they themselves have recently performed a musical based on their own lives at the Sheen Center, in the Village of NYC. We hope this afternoon has given them motivation to strive to achieve their own dreams."
Our special thanks go to
Jia Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
Music for Life