Youth ‘Keep the Beat’ for charity: [Final Edition]

By Sarah Ripplinger, Nelson Daily News
31 July 2007: 1 / FRONT

Student organizers do their part to help war-ravaged children overseas by hosting event featuring local artists

A group of young human rights activists from L.V. Rogers will be putting on a 10-hour-long, show-stopping concert in Nelson’s Lakeside Park to support humanitarian assistance in war torn countries this Wednesday, August 1, from noon to 10 p.m.

All funds raised from the charitable event will go towards War Child Canada, an international aid agency founded in 1999 that provides assistance to children suffering from the effects of war. Keep the Beat concerts are youth-run, youth-driven initiatives that raise funds and awareness to support War Child Canada projects.

Zoey Ockenden, 17, and Laura Metcalfe, 17, along with 15 other key female student leaders first organized a Keep the Beat concert last year, raising approximately $6,000 that went directly to War Child Canada.

Ockenden said she and some friends first heard about the organization at a Red Cross youth symposium on global issues held in Vancouver.

“That kind of opened our eyes to everything and we heard about War Child and the Keep the Beat campaign while we were there and we just kind of decided we wanted to do something.”

The group of youths started up a War Child branch at their school and now have 15 female members that meet once a week throughout the school year and more often in the summer to organize fundraising events.

The success of last year’s concert has Ockenden pumped about this year’s venue and the possibility of increasing the visibility and charitable clout of the annual musical event.

“I think maybe it will be even bigger this year,” she said. “All the musicians are donating their time and everyone involved is donating their time, and so it’s a good chance for the community to come and support that and donate money to support it and have fun.”

The concert features DJ Adham Shaikh – who plays world, fusion and tribal/trance dance music – and What It Is – a 10-piece-band made up of local musicians (and four horns), playing rhythm and blues/funk music.

“We just want to be part of the excitement and be part of the contributing force, make everyone feel like they’re a part of the event and just make a party, you know, that’s our job,” said What It Is bass guitarist, Mark Spielman.

“I think every musician in town wants to do a gig in the summer in the park, because most of the time events start after 10 p.m. This is the one time that my kids can be there and just a whole different group of people can see us when we play outdoors in the park.”

Ockenden will also be performing her unique, folksy piano and vocals with harmony from Metcalfe.

“The young people are really doing all the work,” said Gary Ockenden, adult sponsor and helper of Keep the Beat. “I think that these young women are really motivated to make change in the world and their first motivation was to do something for War Child Canada.”

The funds needed to cover concert expenses came mainly from a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust and two house concerts, Ockenden said.

“So none of the donations from people at the event [on Wednesday] actually go to paying for [concert costs]; it all goes to War Child.”

There will be a silent auction to raise funds for the charity, a War Child and local Amnesty International information booths, CDs and T-shirts sales and a group mural that everyone can participate in.

The Keep the Beat concert will run from noon to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1. For more information about Keep the Beat and War Child Canada visit online.

Photo: Sarah Ripplinger / Zoey Ockenden (left) and Laura Metcalfe (right) are two of the young women responsible for putting together the Wednesday concert. Mark Spielman (middle) bass guitarist for What It Is is one of the acts.

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