| Program: || Saginaw Kids All-City Choir, Saginaw, MI |
| Contact(s): || Michael Brush, Director: (517) 695-2663 |
| Purpose: || To build bridges between people of different cultural, racial and socio-economic backgrounds, while empowering young people to become leaders of social change |
In 1996 a University of Michigan study indicated that comparative census data ranked Saginaw as the eighth-most segregated city in America. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education identified Saginaw as the seventh-poorest district in the nation. The Saginaw Kids All-City Choir was created to bridge the gaps between the diverse populations that exist within its city. The program is an outgrowth of an all-city choir created in 1992 to compliment the city's Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (D.A.R.E.).
The forty young people involved in Saginaw Kids represent a diverse group of students from grades four through 10. They rehearse weekly under the guidance of founder and director, Michael Brush. Through the music written by Brush, the participants explore the issues that are important to them, including the appreciation of diversity, conflict resolution and personal responsibility. The project provides the opportunity for young people to empower themselves and become leaders of positive change. The choir shares its message through performance, as well as through vocal recordings and videos that have appeared on S.E.T.V., the local cable station sponsored by the Saginaw school district. Saginaw Kids receives funding from the local school system and is staffed by volunteers.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Saginaw Kids is now a line item in the Saginaw Public School's budget. They continue to perform locally, and their audio and video recordings continue to be broadcast allowing them to reach thousands of homes weekly. The choir recently performed on the morning television program, "CBS This Morning." Saginaw Kids has also been part of a cooperative project with a Peacemaker Program in Los Angeles, which was designed to teach young people conflict resolution. This joint project resulted in a successful recording titled, "Song For Us," which was a response to the events surrounding the Rodney King trial.