Three very different events

Kids Thrive creative director Andrea Rieniets
Andrea Rieniets side-stage at a Kids Thrive celebration

Three very different events occurred yesterday that seem oddly linked in relevance.

At 11am yesterday (December 5, 2013):

  1. A large group of children were singing songs on the themes of appreciating our differences and taking action when we see unfairness.
  2. Whilst a local community member was stabbed to death.
  3. Whilst Nelson Mandela was passing over.

How these different events relate to each other is significant from the perspective of leading the Kids Thrive KIND programme.

Artists can make a difference

The primary school children were rehearsing their community-focused original songs co-written with me as lead artist in the Kids Thrive KIND in Hume program. The themes of the songs are valuing differences and taking action when you see unfairness, based on the anti-bias curriculum.

As Holy Child sings:
No everybody
Don’t want to be the same

As Corpus Christi sings:
We are shocked when people don’t care
And devastated every time that  people don’t share
Never pick on what we wear
Cos that’s unfair, that’s unfair
You better give people a go
Cos that’s just fair, that’s just fair

As St Dominic’s sings:
Let your heart lead the way
This is what I can say
Start a new way today
We won’t be afraid

Conflict and feelings of unfairness can have devastating consequences

The young man trying to force his way into the mosque was blocked by three senior men who recognised that he was in a state of agitation and was a threat to the safety of others. He was a community member in a bad way and his perceived unfairness of the situation sent him into a knife attack, killing one of the men.

I don’t wish to write this story for that community – there could be any number of complications – drugs, illness or poverty that informed the event.

What we can say is that not having the self-regulation and skills and support to manage differing stances in times of desperation can end in violence. And can start the ongoing heart-ache for so many.

My hope is that the kids in our programmes are increasing their abilities and positive memories to help them to draw back from such explosive conflicts in the future.

Cultural courage can inspire the same worldwide

This term’s songwriting was informed by my co-facilitator Dave Henry framing songwriting for social change with stories and videos of song and dance in South Africa and how it was key to survival and positive change to the unfair apartheid laws.

Dave Henry
Dave Henry with KIND songwriters

Each week we made a rough-hewn gumboot dance our own to the sounds of  Miriam Makeba. And we built our songs on being fair and not excluding people because they look or act differently to me.

The South African transformation led by Nelson Mandela was fueled by music and dance and wisdom that filtered around the world and into our little classrooms in Melbourne to model how powerful we can be as songwriters and performers focused on the health of our communities (not the prizes and ego).

Yesterday was three events coming together in my mind. As a songwriter I would say ‘I heard the bell ring.’ They seem so connected. And so are we all.

As Corpus Christi wrote and sings:
But all of the sand makes up the land
Yeah all of the sand makes up the land


KIND kids original songwriting concert:
Monday December 9, 1-3pm
St Dominic’s School Hall
408 Camp Rd (enter from Jensen Street carpark)
Broadmeadows, Victoria

Andrea Rieniets
Creative Director and songwriter
Kids Thrive