WARREN - A children's songwriting workshop sent the message of avoiding violence and living healthy and happy lives.
The creative workshop, "Music is the Weapon," was held recently at the YWCA of Warren, where children had the opportunity to learn to write their own musical lyrics with messages of avoiding drugs, eating right, having a positive lifestyle and helping others.
The event was held as part of Minority Health Month in April through a grant from the Ohio Commission on Minority Health.
Robin Peace of Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio lead the workshop, showing students how to create rhythm and beat with their hands, legs and feet. She also provided guidance as they created their own songs.
Students at the after-school programs held at the YWCA came to the workshop, which focused on self-esteem building and using the arts to express their emotions.
Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio helped students find an alternative to violent behavior by offering hands-on learning in the arts to the children involved in programs such as the YWCA's Before and After School; Teaching, Educating, Advising, Mentoring program, or T.E.A.M.; and Step Up.
Mentors from Warren G. Harding High School took the younger kids to the different presentations.
"Like when I was growing up, it was bad, and then I switched myself around. I want to show the little kids they can do it, " said youth mentor Mia Bennett.
Pease said the children learned about the tools of songwriting and then wrote their own songs.
"The songs were about how to live a good life. They wrote about having a good life and being nice to one another. They came up with some really clever ideas," she said.
Molly Toth, administrative coordinator at the YWCA, said the workshop illustrated the use of music in achieving deep, soulful expression via the nonviolent, metaphorical use of musical "weapons" and ended with the performance of students' works.
Toth said after breaking the students into age-based groups, Young Audiences discussed the philosophical and cultural aspects of songwriting with the students and provided education and coaching while they wrote their own lyrics.
Dominique Raimey, a 10th grader, said there were important messages in the songs, such as to finish school and not let strife get you mixed up in life. She said she also learned the message of making good life decisions.
She said others learned that it is not just peers that cause peer pressure but messages from advertising, television and magazines.
Amica Fox, a senior, said about staying out of trouble and having someone to look up to who is a positive peer.
Courtney Mathews, a mentor, said she learned to focus on the positives and not the negatives in life.
Other upcoming events include:
April 25 - "Stand Against Racism." Throughout the day, program participants will work on projects in honor of the YWCA's annual Stand Against Racism. Their projects will be on display the following evening at Family Fun Night from 5 to 7 p.m. April 26.
April 26 - The families of participants in Before and After School and T.E.A.M. will gather for a night of friendship, food and fun. Daphne's Step Up girls will be on hand to help. The goal of the evening is to foster friendships and give families ideas for bonding at home.
For information, call 330-373-1010.