I recently attended a presentation at my daughter’s school called “The Celebration of Learning.” The entire presentation was focused on young change makers, i.e. kids who are making positive change for the greater good. Each grade level (K-5) researched, interviewed and spoke about a change maker and the outcome(s) of their efforts. It was incredible to hear little voices talk passionately about how they were inspired by these young people. In some cases, there were kids showcasing what they are personally doing to give back, i.e. creating a petition to save a sacred Nature Area in California, hosting a bake sale to benefit the ASPCA, standing outside a homeless shelter (with mom) doling out food on cold nights, raising money to help build a school in Africa, and even raising money to name a sea turtle (“Wilson”) from Costa Rica and track another sea turtle (“Chubby”) from Bermuda who has traveled 600 miles since birth.
The Not-Its!, one of Seattle’s most popular kindie rock bands, refers to these acts of kindness as “KidQuakes.” Or, as bassist Jennie Helman describes it, “A KidQuake! describes an act of good by a kid. It’s that seismic energy kids have that translates to dance, smiles and good times.” Lead singer Sarah Shannon continues, “Kids are powerful, they have some serious mojo to make good things happen.”
When I first heard about what The Not-Its! were doing, I was blown away. As the parent of a child who is regularly disgusted by litter on the streets (and has walked around our neighborhood with a mini broom and a bag picking up garbage), I can personally attest to experiencing that serious kid mojo. The innocence and sense of justice kids have is incredible and something I have always been intrigued by. As one of the students**, age 10, put it: “I believe [kids are the ones who will make changes in this world] because children can have more open hearts. They believe in things that grown ups don’t. If you told a grown up that humans could fly, they wouldn’t believe you because of ‘course’ humans can not fly. But if you told a young child he would think ‘could humans fly? Maybe if you…’ They would think of ideas. That is why the younger generation is going to save this world.” Kid power!
I love that The Not-Its!, one of our favorite kindie rock bands, is working hard to “showcase and inspire kids who are doing good.” In my interview below, Sarah and Jennie of The Not-Its! talk more about the inspiration for one of 2013’s best albums (KidQuake!), what the band is doing to highlight all of these amazing changemakers and how you can become a part of The Not-Its! Nation!
Can you explain the inspiration for and concept of a KidQuake?!
Sarah Shannon (SS): I heard this heart-wrenching story about a little girl who passed away in a car accident here in the Pacific Northwest. When she was alive, she heard that a lot of people in Africa didn’t have access to clean drinking water, so she started a fundraising drive (in lieu of birthday presents) to help build a well in Africa. After she died, her story went viral, funds started pouring in and she raised millions of dollars for clean water. After I cried for about an hour and a half, I started to think about how amazing it was that this little girl’s spirit – her instinct to do good – was so potent that she continued to make something huge happen even after she passed.
During the time I heard this story, my band, The Not-Its!, were in the process of writing songs for our fourth record. We had a rough little gem that we were calling “Earthquake.” Boom! The creative muses began swarming and we thought “KidQuake! Kid power for good!” We wrote the song, “KidQuake!,” but then started thinking this needs to be something more. A movement, perhaps? A way to showcase and inspire kids who are doing good.
Jennie Helman (JH): In that moment, KidQuake! took on a whole new meaning. Kids have the power to do good, and what better way to help them realize their potential than through music.
Since you started promoting this movement, have you seen or been a part of any KidQuakes?
JH: Many organizations have already established ways for kids to get involved. This summer, The Not-Its! partnered with Seattle Children’s hospital, who had already published materials on ways kids could raise money for the hospital, i.e. lemonade sales, bake sales, clothing/book drives. The Not-Its! had the opportunity to help promote a lemonade sale at a nearby elementary school, run solely by kids, where proceeds went towards the hospital. [We shared a video clip] on our Facebook site, which is another example of ways we have been able to promote weekly stories of Kid Power for Good on a national and local level.
Have there been any KidQuakes within your own families?
SS: I share all of the stories we showcase on Facebook with my kids. This past summer, my daughter’s CampFire troop came up with a KidQuake! of their own. Of course, summer is prime lemonade stand time, and we were able to raise money for charity, as a result.
JH: Just last week my eight-year-old daughter, Jaden, and I, participated in a fundraising event and 5K obstacle course in which we raised over $250 for LLS (the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). The event was called the Winter Pineapple Express and we had to each carry a pineapple the entire route. For all our neighbors and friends who donated, we cooked soups or plates of cookies as a Thank You, depending on the amount they donated. Last year she and I did The Big Climb where we raised money towards LLS. Together, we climbed 69 flights of stairs at the tallest building in Seattle. I know that Jaden has been proud of her contributions and is starting to realize the difference she’s making with each KidQuake!. Last Christmas, all my girls spent one Saturday making art and selling it throughout the neighborhood. Their KidQuake! contributions totaled $2.88 and they were more than proud to deliver it to the local Food Bank.
Where can families participate in and read more about this movement?
SS: We are working on ways to build a social network for families to inspire/encourage each other to do good. In the meantime, we will be showcasing and inspiring families through our KidQuake and Not-Its! Facebook pages, The Not-Its!’ website and live shows.
JH: My hopes are: to generate a movement that The Not-Its! Nation – kids, parents and caretakers – feel connected to and can experience together; to appreciate kids for their acts of good and recognize how the power of kind acts can inspire kids and others towards a more positive approach in life. And, we want to showcase stories that will motivate kids and parents to do more good in their communities.
**The 10-year-old student I quoted chose changemaker Pavan Raj Gowda, who founded Green Kids Now, Inc. when he was 8 years old. Green Kids Now, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity organization purposed to reach youth of all ages around the world to raise awareness on environmental issues, and encourages children to learn, innovate, take action and share ideas and experiences.
Reprinted with permission from Kids Can Groove.
Rebecca Alison is a mom to a rockstar 5-year-old daughter with a wicked sense of humor and serious dance moves. Rebecca blogs about children’s music that will actually make you want to hit repeat! She is also a booking agent specializing in bringing entertainment to families in the Bay Area and around the U.S.