Minden Press-Herald

Sep 30th

Artists sow motivational seeds

IMG_0377Local artists met Wednesday with students in the WAG (We Are Graduating) program to offer encouragement and love.

Jerome and Necie B. are two vocal artists from Shreveport who feel led to provide music with a positive message to youth.

"If we can sow the seed of motivation and encouragement today, we know they will be able to grow to be great tomorrow," Jerome said. "What we do today affects our future.

Even just a few hours today with the kids, telling them we love them and care for them, instead of saying they are rebellious and bad and will never be anything – it's going to have a great effect for the students and for the city of Minden."

Although the two are in their mid 20's, both feel they have something relevant to offer children.

"I love working with youth, so when I heard the WAG organization wanted us to sing, I took it as an opportunity to sow seeds in young people lives." Jerome said. Necie said she agrees.

Sandra Calvin, program Director for WAG, feels the music and mentoring Jerome and Necie B. provide are important for the children and for the artists themselves. Calvin calls the two "family."

"Whenever we meet a new artist, we are able to build relationships with them, love them and encourage them to keep God as their focus," Calvin said. "This (performing at WAG program) teaches them to serve the community, not just be a star."

Calvin was also excited to have celebrity, Vivica Fox, who has starred in films such as Kill Bill and Independence Day, involved in yesterday's ministry.

"I'm always trying to be involved in the community," Fox said. "No town is too small for my presence – even lil' ole' Minden."

Fox said she loves being involved and would rather children see her in person rather than a commercial or public service announcement.

"Especially when it comes to the kids (because) they are Generation Next and need some guidance and inspiration," Fox said. "I'm hoping my words about my story of struggle and success will touch and inspire them."

Calvin and spouse, Clarence Calvin, serve the community in their roles as Apostle and Bishop of Liberty Christian Ministries, International Kingdom Church, as well as overseeing the local arm of the WAG program.

"We have so many people who do not graduate," said Calvin. "It really has a focus on making sure that children are educated and to make sure the children do not go hungry."

The WAG program began in Texas and is trying out locations in Louisiana this year.

WAG anticipates serving a minimum of 30,000 meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Minden location this year.

The program runs a total of 66 days during the summer months and provides employment opportunities. In addition to volunteers, food service workers, mentors, group assistants and certified teachers are needed to operate the program.

Certified teachers are placed with groups of 20 children (ages seven to 14) and together they work as team.

"The students learn about giving back to the community and how to work as a team," Calvin said. "Activities are done in a group and you do everything together; so you teach the importance of team work. It is a really good program."

Children keep a journal of daily activities and how WAG has impacted their lives.

"This documents the progress we are making with the children, through their own perspective," Calvin continued. "So when we turn in the books to the state, it is not in our handwriting but in the children's."

The WAG program is funded and monitored through federal and state departments such as the United States Department of Agriculture, The Louisiana Department of Education, the Louisiana department of Health and Hospitals and the North Louisiana Food Bank.

Calvin said the best part of providing the service is the impact it will have on a child.

"When you get report cards from students whom are normally "F" or "D" students and whom are now getting "A"s because they spent time at your camp, its not just a blessing, it is an honor because you can see you not only spent the summer having fun, but you have made education fun and that they will never forget it," she said.

The program is open to all area children.

"It is an excellent program and reaches all across the board. It's not based on income," Clarence Calvin said. "It crosses racial and social economic lines.

"The need (of hungry children) is massive," he continued. "There are more than 92,000 people in northwest Louisiana who are food insecure – or who don't know where their next meal is coming from."

For more information or to participate in the WAG program call 218-5549.硸






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