Youth Succeed Through Music
By C. MacDonald
Flowers were in bloom, butterflies and birds were flying, and the hills around the lush South Coast Botanic Garden were alive with the sound of joyful music yesterday at this Palos Verdes Peninsula jewel. Multi-talented masters like Dain Kirkpatrick, Blake Aaron, Rebecca Jade, Mark Philpart, Michael Kennedy and friends performed their magic at the Freedom4U Concert to help change lives. Their incredible interpretation of jazz, r&b and other sounds delighted the audience at the fundraiser.
Since 2002, Freedom4U has been a non-profit youth organization dedicated to coaching young people to fulfill their potentials. It was started by a legendary coach's son, Gregory E. Allen, Ph.D., a therapist and substance abuse counselor for South Bay teens. His father, George Allen, the late coach of the Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins and Long Beach State, would be proud of how Greg has assembled a talented, enthusiastic team, which not only counsels but helps youth perform creative arts in safe, alcohol and drug-free environments.
"Students are participating from schools in Manhattan, Redondo and Hermosa Beaches as well as Palos Verdes Peninsula," Allen said. "It's fun, popular and really builds their confidence and self-esteem." Seasoned musicians also help the youth to succeed.
Three energetic students from Palos Verdes High School, who assisted at the "Music in the Garden" concert, really enjoy helping other students. Alex Forsythe, a recent grad heading for the University of Michigan, said he gives talks with others. "Kids listen to youth and we tell them to look at the people on alcohol and drugs around you. They usually don't get good grades, good college offers or good jobs," said the 18-year-old. "Sometimes we'll bring a student who has recovered from an addiction problem to explain what they went through."
PVHS seniors Katie Walker and Danny White are learning from Alex, Greg Allen and others to continue the special leadership effort in the high school and middle schools. "I like all the program stands for," said Danny. "I especially look forward to communicating with younger kids." "I want to help make a difference," said Katie, on why she got involved.
Freedom4U Boardmember Suzy Zimmerman, an insurance agent, said the program also helps educate parents. "We have drug prevention seminars for parents and their kids," she said. "And there's school-based counseling for at-risk youth."
Renown musicians like guitarists Mark Philpart and bassist Michael Kennedy said they enjoy helping the much-needed program by using their talents to entertain at the delightful fundraisers. Freedom4U partners with parents, businesses, educators, law enforcement, community groups, musicians and others to make a positive difference. To find out about their events and how you can get involved, go to freedomcommunity.com or call 310-897-5043. (To find out more about the beautiful South Coast Botanical Garden, visit SouthCoastBotanicGarden.org, call 310-544-1948 or drop by 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula.)