Up With People in Renaissance Village
I've been visiting Renaissance Village, FEMA's largest trailer park here in Baton Rouge, every Friday with Grace. We spend time with the children at special programs and on the playground. I'm really, really growing very fond of the children and staff there.
On Fridays the program directors have set up "Fun Fridays" for the children to unwind after their busy week at school and working hard in the after school program. For the past few weeks the Baton Rouge Art's Council has visited, and yesterday an international group called Up With People was there with Baton Rouge's City Year group too. They travel promoting group efforts to improve lives and working together.
At first I thought they were there to play and spend time with us on the playground with some pa systems set up with background music. Well, I was in for a surprise once one of the reps took the mic and asked us to gather around for a performance.
This amazing group of adults ranging in ages 20 - 29 coming from the US, Belgium, Brazil, and China, to name a few, kicked into an energized singing and dancing routine. They rapped uplifting lyrics and created rhythms that had the children jumping off of their feet with huge smiles on their faces. A group of boys sat with me in the front begging to use my camera to take pictures of all of the action.
I giggled when I heard them sing Up With People as their finale since I have known those lyrics since my childhood. I think that I had learned the song from my elem school teachers, but never had we made the sounds funky enough to dance to.
Up, up with people
You meet them wherever you go
Up, up with people
da da da da da da da...(can't remember this line)
If more people
were for people
all people everywhere
there'd be a lot less people
to worry about
and a lot more people who care
Following their performance Cynthia, the after school director, presented the children with framed achievement awards. She announced their names in the microphone and they came to the front. The Up With People and City Year gave each child such a HUGE round of applause and cheers. Each moment for each child was special in its own way, and I will never forget how excited I felt for them. Was this their first time being such a star? I do believe it was a first for the Ren Village community, and I feel that it brings hope and pride to everyone involved.
At the end of the event, the crew of performers and volunteers got together for a follow-up of their experiences. When asked to hold up fingers 1-5 to show their rating of the day, they all put out their hands. I jumped below them with my camera to get a shot, and the woman above me held out both hands with all fingers. I have ten she said because this was just so great.
I had a chance to to take a group shot of all of these fantastic adults. It was fun for some of the children still there to jump in too.
Every Friday I leave knowing that I'm very fortunate to spend time with the children there, but on this particular day I know that we all shared in something very special.