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Kids Can Make A Difference by Maxwell Surprenant

Kids Really Rock Festival: A Celebration of Music, Art, Community, and Kindness

A crowd of 7,000 people gathered at the Lawn on D for the fourth annual Kids Really Rock Festival, held last Saturday, September 24, in Boston, Massachusetts. I attended this event and soaked in the sunshine and good vibes all around.

Ten top children’s bands performed while kids and families happily danced, played musical instruments, enjoyed food and drinks, participated in arts and crafts, and played on the famous Lawn D swings. The twenty moon-shaped swings have solar-powered LED lights that change color when swung at varying speeds and heights.

Karen Kalafatas, from Karen K and the Jitterbugs, founded and runs the Kids Really Rock Festival, originally called the “One Family Music Festival,” as an immediate response to the tragic Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. The first event drew in 1,500 people and raised $23,000 in donations to aid the One Fund Boston. “It was way to let people heal and to reclaim the city for our children,” Kalafatas said.

Kalafatas has taken Kids Really Rock Festival to higher levels. At the 2014 Kids Really Rock Festival, kids collected thousands of new socks for Cradles to Crayons. In 2015, they donated baby bibs and books to Room To Grow. And at this year’s 2016 festival, kids proved that that they can fight hunger- one can at a time.

Kids and families brought canned food to help families in need. The donations support the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB). “There’s a lot of great organizations here that are teaching things about our world. We’re teaching kids about hunger and how some don’t always have enough to eat,” said Courtney Johanson, Director of Marketing Communications at GBFB.

Various organizations led hands-on activities that focused on caring and sharing. I offered a community service project with my non-profit Catching Joy, Inc., which promotes volunteerism and acts of kindness beginning with kids, teens, and their families. Kids wrote down inspirational messages on decorated hearts to accompany the food donations for the GBFB.

At my station, I gave out ChopChop Magazine, which promotes kids cooking and eating healthy together. ChopChop has interesting articles about health, food, and fitness, plus trivia, games, and puzzles. Also, ChopChop serves as a “go to” resource for nutritious, delicious, and ethnically diverse recipes for kids.

The Kids Really Rock Festival made me thankful for good food. It reminded me of my responsibility to help others less fortunate. I talked to Johanson about specific things that kids can do to help end hunger. Johanson said, “At the Greater Boston Food Bank we distribute over 57 million pounds of food every year. To do that, we do a lot of fundraising. So for every dollar raised, we can provide three healthy meals.” Besides giving money, she suggested that kids and families can donate food or volunteer at local food pantries.

A big way to help is to spread awareness. “Let people know that there are people living next door to us who do not have food. We should be kind and help each other,” Johanson said.

Maxwell Surprenant is a member of the ChopChop Kid Advisory Board.

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