By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
Pottstown area youth created lyrics about achieving goals then demonstrated the character building lesson through a soccer-infused music video.
Children in a local youth mentoring program called The STRIVE Initiative collaborated to create the song. STRIVE is an acronym for “Strengthening Tomorrow Requires Initiative and Vision Everyday.” Through the program, underserved youth learn character building lessons with art, education, recreation and music activities.
“We’re about character. We’re about getting into the zone of education and self-worth. We want to help build these young people up,” said David Charles, STRIVE executive director and co-founder.
Over the summer, the kids came up with rhyming words and phrases then combined it all together to create the “Go for the Goal” song. The kids even got the courage to speak on a microphone in front of everyone to create stories through rhymes.
“It was a confidence builder for them because they found themselves being a little more comfortable,” said Anthony Lyon, STRIVE program manager and co-founder.
“It was magic. It was beautiful,” Charles said.
To help convey the message of the song, the mentored youth partnered with children from the Soccer for Success program. The free soccer program started in the Pottstown area about three years ago through The JT Dorsey Foundation which uses athletics to promote social change.
“We use the game to teach about healthy lifestyles and pro-social behaviors,” said Julian Dorsey, executive director and president of the foundation.
Dorsey said Soccer for Success isn’t really about the competition but about helping kids to make good decisions in life. The coaches act as mentors. For the music video, children from both the soccer program and STRIVE ran drills on the field near the Rolling Hills Apartments in Lower Pottsgrove.
The children also did scenes at the Olivet Boys & Girls Club in Pottstown. Kids were recorded on the bleaches while singing out parts of the lyrics. The actual song has group vocals from the children and even a solo from one of the older youth mentees.
“I think the whole idea of this song was staying focused and staying committed to what it is that you’re trying to do,” Lyon said.
Like the song says, the Strive Initiative is all about teaching youth how to go for the goal. The mentoring program began about two years ago when Charles and Lyon, both from Pottstown, came together for a common purpose. Lyon had just graduated from Pennsylvania State University where he had started a STRIVE chapter there. Coming from Pottstown, he was amazed to see all the programs available on the college campus.
“Literally anything that you wanted to become involved in as long as you could make a good case for it then you have that opportunity and you have some funding behind it,” Lyon said. “I just wanted to be able to provide students (in the Pottstown area) with the opportunity to become more aware of additional programs that are around.”
Around the same time, Lyon returned to Pottstown as a college graduate, Charles was starting a musical program. They decided to combine their ideas and add a musical element to a character building initiative.
“We had similar missions and were from the same town,” Charles said.
Charles said he always had a passion for music and he shows the youth that it’s possible to pursue your dreams in the Pottstown area. The mentoring program partners with local music schools to offer discounted prices and scholarships for lessons.
“That was part of my goal to basically bring a music program to Pottstown because I’ve always been into music since I was young,” Charles said.
Lyon said STRIVE reaches out to children that are underserved and aren’t afforded the opportunity to have music lessons or be part of other character building activities. The mentoring programs partners with several other organizations in the area to help accomplish their mission. The kids participated in a summer cultural program with the gardens of the Mosaic Community Land Trust, Art Fusion 19464 and the Boys & Girls Club.
Charles said the partnerships are very important and help them show young people a better way.
To learn more about the STRIVE Initiative and see the final version of the “Go for the Goal” music video when it’s finished, visit the website striveinitiative.org. To learn more about The JT Dorsey Foundation and the Soccer for Success program, visit www.jtdorsey.org.