Catholic Schools Have A New Spin On Rap

By Anita L Barber
Music For Life Has Become The 411 Initiative For Change Inc.
Students get real and abandon the superficiality and violence of gangsta rap at schools like Canadian Martyrs in East York. Catholic Schools have had black artists like Tristan come in and deliver their message about respect, diversity, leadership, and staying original by creative problem solving. They create a rap, mix it (learning about the industry as artists) put it on a C’D with their name and picture. These children are so exited and empowered they talk about it for weeks. It is something they will remember for a life time. It is a building block for character because it allows them to take ownership of the process. It creates self-awareness and empowers marginalized groups and enlightens others who formerly didn’t understand. The music helps to create a tight community not a fight community, It replaces ignorance with knowledge. As Tristan says “knowledge is power.” Education gives children options. 411 initiative For Change is non-profit, non-religious and non-political organization. It helps to build social awareness and community. The children think it is cool and Tristan is fun to work with and a natural in the classroom.
The 411 Initiative For Change undertakes public education and the promotion of civic participation of young people on social issues that frame their development within their communities; it works to build and strengthen the national action movement on common global issues, in their domestic and international contexts. The 411 Initiative For Change is working to create a world in which all global citizens, and specifically young people, have a say and a role to play in their community, their country, and are active participants in all areas of society and at all levels. The 411 Initiative For Change is a non-political, non-religious organization committed to long-term viable development through partnerships with academic institutions, governments, corporations, community organizations and music industry professionals, agencies and associations. They are relentless in their efforts to use art and culture to improve cultural understanding and to raise awareness on social and humanitarian issues. This approach provides youth with opportunities to voice their opinions. The programs encourage youth to critically analyze issues of concern or of interest to them.

The 411 Initiative For Change uses arts and culture as tools to raise public awareness and foster social change.The 411 Initiative For Change works on development projects aiming for viable long term solutions through bridging education, arts, culture and heritage to social development. Using music and art in the mass media, The 411 Initiative For Change provides civic education and raises awareness on contemporary social issues – sensitizing the public, generating interest and encouraging action to improve social cohesion. The majority of projects are geared towards engaging children and youth audiences and address issues including: citizenship and identity, self-esteem, entrepreneurship, anti-violence, diversity appreciation, multiculturalism, human rights and other thematic critical issues.

This programme would benefit students, teachers, educators, professional artists, expert non-government organizations, government and community leaders. and community centres. This new name will allow them to best expand their programming and operations nationally, and, will be reflective of how they continue to reach out to young people through the media of contemporary arts and culture.

In the last year, the organization’s initiatives have reached nearly 20,000 young people in Ontario through interactive programs using music and young musicians to engage high school students in contemporary social issues. In today’s turbulent times, The 411 Initiative For Change anticipates and responds to the interests and issues faced by young people in Canada.

The organization’s ‘Best Practice’: Youth Teaching Youth – Using Music as an Educational Tool for Empowerment and Civic Education, has been nominated for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation Award of Excellence as a ‘best practice’ in diversity management and towards combating discrimination in schools!

Commenting further on the organization’s growth, Executive Director Tamara Dawit reports: ”Our programs are being expanded constantly as interest from schools and partner organizations grows. With over 100,000 young people across Canada slated to be reached through programs during the 2005/2006 academic year, The 411 Initiative For Change is set to maintain its position as Canada’s leading organization engaging and educating young people through arts and culture.

The unique nature of The 411 Initiative For Change’s model of using artists and music as key agents in social change – from within the education system, demonstrates innovative, timely and effective response to the growing need to identify and practice viable models for social development.

Another great program is Roots of Empathy- Mary Gordon TDSB
P.S I have pased this information on to a Principal with the Toronto District School Board. If you e-mail someone who might benefit it is as simple as cut and paste- two minutes tops.

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