BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Marion Mitchell says mentoring young people and shaping young minds has always been important to her.
“I love the youth, especially middle school kids,” she said. “They are trying to find their way at that age.”
A cosmetologist by profession, Mitchell is also a lover of music. She feels music is not only a great way to express yourself, but that it also lifts your spirit.
“Music and entertainment have always brought people together from way back during slavery to juke joints and especially the church house.”
So when she found a way to combine her love of music and the youth, she couldn’t resist. She began soliciting schools, churches and community groups for young people ages 4-18 for a community choir.
“I just felt God leading me in this direction,” she stated. “Music just really touches the soul, and it has a way of bringing people together.”
Mitchell began “Our Youth Rocks” only a month ago, but said doors have been opening for the organization. So far, she already has nearly 40 kids signed up, as well as 25 students for a dance group.
From Sept. 24-28, they will practice their songs and dance to present to the community on Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Downtown Hilton in St. Petersburg.
Along with the choir and dance team, Will@large, a Christian rapper, will perform with the Our Youth Rocks Praise Team.
Mitchell wanted the youth to learn more than just a few songs or dances, so character and team building workshops are incorporated into the experience.
“This is a chance to build relationships with our youth and let them know that you can have fun with Christ,” said Mitchell, owner and operator of Blessed by the Best Hair Salon.
Students will have a chance to showcase what they’ve learned during their workshop sessions at a panel discussion during the event.
Mitchell said she also hopes to have the chance to introduce something she calls the “family table” to the parents as well.
“Relationship building, character building, it all starts in the home,” she averred. “I want to talk to parents about the importance of sitting down at the table and talking with their kids.”
Mitchell is excited about how well things have come together over the past month and credits the team that has shared her vision. Along with her husband Andre and Our Youth Rocks co-founder
Jamall Dorsey, she is grateful to all of the volunteers that have made this project a priority.
“There is no way I could have started this on my own.”
The team hopes the introduction of Our Youth Rocks next Saturday will only signal the beginning. The group plans to continue the choir and workshops and have been in talks with the Pinellas County Urban League for assistance. Additionally, they plan to work towards a mentoring program to introduce in the schools.
Tickets for the event are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Youth can attend the event for free. They will have the chance to walk the red carpet and learn more about the organization. Mitchell said she also plans to have community vendors on hand to provide important information for parents.
The group is still looking for volunteers, and there are still a few slots left for children interested in participating. For more information on tickets, volunteering or becoming a vendor at the event, email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s my prayer that this doesn’t stop here and that it will continue for years and grow to the hundreds,” Mitchell finished.