ST. PETERSBURG – Students always need a little encouragement and a helping hand to succeed in both their education and life. K-H Edutainment has been in the trenches for years, the last 12 in fact, working toward building relationships with students, guiding them in the right direction and to making the right choices.
Corey Thornton is the founder of K-H Edutainment and remembers a youth surrounded by negativity. He struggled academically and had behavioral issues starting from elementary school, which continued into his middle school years.
It wasn’t until he attended Gibbs High School and became involved in the performing arts that he finally found something he enjoyed. He honed his skills in writing, started creating music and ventured forward in a career in music.
He channeled his anger into his music, which resulted in Rated R lyrics and negative messages until he encountered young people struggling with depression, addiction and other mental health issues. He started writing positive songs and volunteering in schools to promote students saying no to drugs.
On the MLK Day of Service, along with his wife Deborah, he will be handing out backpacks to those in need that attend the parade. The backpacks will contain supplies to assist students in getting through the remainder of the year.
“During the second semester those backpacks are old and tearing up,” said Corey. He regularly mentors students at schools around St. Petersburg, mostly concentrating on schools that serve low-income students. “I’m looking at students when they show up for school and they have no supplies in class.”
From all the time he’s put into students, Corey understands that there are children at every school that need support, so he plans to also go to select schools this Friday and drop off backpacks to students he has identified as needing assistance.
“We’re going to switch it up this year,” said Deborah, who is helping in the planning and implementation with the Day of Service project. “We’re going to give most of what we have out at the schools.”
Since Corey uses his skills as an educational, motivational hip-hop artist to rein the children in, he feels he builds connections with students wherever he holds his educational concerts. He writes all his own music and gears it specifically for students.
Corey also works with the Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) promoting attendance awareness in neighboring at-risk schools, turning kids on to wanting to be at school.
Many schools don’t have the money to pay for K-H Edutainment’s services, so the Thorntons continue to search for sponsors to donate to their cause. They became a nonprofit seven years ago in efforts to try and get organizations, corporations and local businesses to pitch in.
However, the couple usually ends up pinching their pennies and pulling the money out of their own pockets.
“It takes a lot of money,” said Deborah. But she agrees it’s all worth it if it reduces the negative currency that has flooded the lives of youths. More money is always needed to make a positive impact, one that will combat the mixed messages children receive every day through video games, television, peers and social media.
Corey believes that if he can pound the message into students at an early age, he will make a lasting impression and destroy the belief that negative is the new cool.
This is K-H Edutainment’s second year receiving the MLK Day of Service grant. Last year, the organization used the money to purchase tablets so he could read with students during his mentoring sessions.
Come Jan. 15 though, Corey urges those in need to visit his table. The plan is to have roughly 100 backpacks filled with supplies to pass out after the MLK Parade at Tropicana Field.
He will be there, complete with his bubbly, down-to-earth personality doing his part to draw in as many youths as possible to feel good about school.