A few moths ago I was parked near Tower Grove and my phone rang, the caller was David Antonio from Kipp Inspire Academy, South St. Louis. Mr. Antonio, who heads up the music department, was looking to speak with someone at Play It Forward. A friend had told him about a program in St. Louis that gives instruments to schools. I introduced myself and told him he’s reached the right contact. We began to discuss his school, his position there, and he expressed to me Kipp Inspire Academy’s mission and core values. David spoke of his classroom, his goals for teaching, and his struggles with a limited budget. He continued to tell me more about his students, their desire for music and their passion for learning! Unfortunately, and what we often hear, is the schools don’t have the proper equipment to meet the desires and passion for learning. Primarily in the music and arts department. Mr. Antonio’s classroom were using buckets, turned upside down, on chairs.
I wanted to know if he had a “Wish List” what would it be? He replied, a full Drum Line Corp. I knew instantly that that was a tall order that could possibly cost between 8k-12k dollars. However, I promised him that we would do our best to fulfil his wish and we would be committed to work together on this project. Then I told him, I wanted to meet the kids!
On our first visit, Play It Forward arrived with several snare drums to assist them temporarily and replace some of the buckets they were currently using. The kids were overjoyed and excited. They immediately showed off their percussion and rhythmic talent! I was so impressed with their timing, their sound, their practice and commitment with the limited resources they had. I assured Mr. Antonio that we were working on his request and his classroom and students deserved the required equipment for a Drum Core Line!
Board member Kevin Mitchell offered to call on some of his contacts to see where we could get the best deals possible. Kevin and Mr. Antonio worked together on his list and the search began! We were ecstatic when we discovered we were able to make the purchase for less than 3k!
The deal got even sweeter when KTRS local radio personality John Carney wanted in on the fun! John and I do a weekly radio show called the Thursday Music Club. Each week we talk about Play It Forward and the local music scene. We talked several times on air about the Drum Line project so I was taken by surprise when John said the Carney’s Kids Foundation were footing the bill for the Drum Line project! John and his staff have been staunch supporters of Play It Forward for many years, not to mention that John is a percussionist, so this was a perfect fit!
On May 6th, 2015 we arrived for the second time at Kipp Inspire Academy. The best part was that the kids didn’t know we were coming! We loaded all the boxes into the gymnasium and 15 students came through the doors. It didn’t take long for the opening to begin! Their cheers and excitement filled the room. I stood back and watched along with Play It Forward team members, Kipp Inspire staff, teachers and administrators. We were all moved!
My eyes fill with tears because I am so touched by the children who have worked so hard to master their abilities in music, to show up, to work hard, to take responsibility, and to make all that effort while using buckets!! I hope that passion fills you as you read that sentence. That gift alone changes everything! A team of people came together and provided the payoff for all their hard work, dedication and commitment. I’m proud to follow through with our mission to Play It Forward!
Imagine, for less than 3k dollars, how many students will benefit from the proper equipment in their classroom, for the rest of this year and for many years to come. I hope you will join in our efforts to make a difference musically in the life of a child.