By Katie Sobiech
Encouraging teens to dream is just a piece of the puzzle of When the Music Stops (WMS).
WMS carries a story behind their performance with a message that continues even when the music ceases to play.
The message that they leave echoes in heart of every teen whose life they spoke to and touched.
Instantaneous and Lasting Change
“It’s cool. We’ve seen instantaneous impact, but we’ve sustained life-change in kids who are continuing to embrace this message,” Brandon Kightlinger, Founder of Generation Akron, said.
“It isn’t just one day, with kids leaving… Yeah it’s awesome, we had fun, a great message, but a year from now- two years from now – they’re still embracing what’s happening here,” Kightlinger continued.
This is the ripple effect they want to keep flowing.
Principals and Teachers on Board
And it’s not just the kids who love it. Principals and teachers are on board and appreciative of WMS as well. So far their response has been very receptive.
“It’s great. Sometimes you get an older guy like myself and you give a message and maybe it’s not as well received – but when you get it from people who are closer to their age who share real life stories it may be relevant to something they’re going through,” Frank Kalain, Principle of Garfield High School, said.
“It lets them know there is hope and they can be successful. We want every kid to be successful,” Kalain said.
Kightlinger remembers when a guidance counselor at a local high school told him “I’ve had a vision for this school. I’ve had things I wanted to see done with this school, and today, in one day, you’ve accomplished my entire vision for this school through this program”.
“It was amazing. She had this dream and it was accomplished that day – done effectively through one program,” Kightlinger said.
The Power of Encouragement
Inspiring words of encouragement are spoken intentionally to teens who may not get it at home.
WMS also encourages acts of kindness among the teens, even giving them examples of what they can do for a peer that might change their life – such as writing a kind note or giving a smile.
“This year to start school off I thought we’d show (WMS) to underclassmen. That way we could set that culture of treating each other right. I think in order for us to reach our highest potential academically, we need to make sure the social issue- treating each other well- is intact,” Kalain said.
Kightlinger made a point to address that most people are hurting in some way – they don’t need others to bring them down.
“The girls in your life don’t need you to tear them apart. You know, because when they look in the mirror in the morning they might already be tearing themselves apart,” Kightlinger said, for example.
Kightlinger shared a story of one of his peers in High School, Katie, who was touched by his story when he shared it on the very same stage years ago.
He also told the story of a friend who he had wrote a kind note to, and when he saw her 4 years later, she still had the note. She kept it. Never forgetting his act of kindness.
“I kept it all of these years,” she told him, “And I want you to know that it changed my life.”
Giving Life to Others
“You have no idea how the power of your voice and encouragement can (affect) somebody’s life,” Kightlinger said.
“I discovered that my story didn’t kill me, but it gave life and hope to somebody else when I overcame the pain in my life,” Kightlinger shared.
He encouraged the teens to face and deal with their pain. To talk it out with a counselor, principal or religious leader in the community. Also not to let the mistakes of their parents reflect on their life.
He encouraged them to write a new story.
WMS offers an eclectic group of talented, spiritually gifted, down-to-earth young men and women.
“Every person here is a leader of something, and they’re changing the world every day by what they’re giving themselves to,” Kightlinger shared.
Nate “Deezy” Slaughter is co-producer of Sons of Thunder ENT and Assistant Program Director for True North Ministries, working with detained and incarcerated youth between the ages of 12 and 21.
“(Sons of Thunder) is a movement starting with hip hop, rappers, DJ’s and producers to use their music to positively impact the youth culture,” Slaughter said.
Slaughter also works with local youth in prisons, state and county facilities.
“I’ve seen guys in prison that are out now and some of them are coming to our gatherings because I met them in prison. It’s really cool that even on that level they’re connecting with what we’re doing,” Slaughter said.
Bryson Davis, who shares his story of losing both parents at an early age, is using his gifts and talents to pursue justice for those afflicted by many different types of injustices throughout the world.
“Bryson is very passionate about justice work and working with the poor and impoverished children around the world,” Kightlinger shared.
Davis has raised awareness for 800,000 orphans in Uganda due to the AIDS epidemic and hopes to raise awareness of the poverty issues here in Akron as well.
“He has an incredible heart for justice work in the Akron area and working with the poor and impoverished,” Kightlinger said.
Davis continues to work with different groups to move things forward.
Wendy Broderick, graduate of Malone University with a major in Youth and Educational Ministry, also shares her story of overcoming hurt and pain to help others.
“I wanted to be a part of what God was going to do through the vision that Brandon had. I graduated from college with a degree in working with children and youth, so my passion’s really with that,” Broderick said.
Joshua Fisher from a local band “Whisper” has worked with youth and young adults for nearly 10 years.
“When Brandon came and asked me to be a part of what he was doing it was the perfect fit because my vision statement for what I do is to ‘awaken a generation to the calling that God has placed on their lives’,” Fisher said.
Joy Switzer, a.k.a. DJ Zion says he’s deejayed his whole life. And now he’s using it for Kingdom work and touching the lives of others.
“I’ve been pursuing positive music and my heart has always been with the youth,” Switzer said.
The group shares their stories for free, some even taking off of work to be a part of this endeavor. For booking information and more on When the Music Stops please visit http://www.generationakron.org. or visit their Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/GenAkron
Part Three, next week, will share their faith-based roots and other initiatives that they have going outside of When the Music Stops and how you can get involved!