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‘Your Story. Your Hero.’

On Wednesday May 8th, The Children’s Fine and Performing Arts Foundation (CFPAF) and Meeting Street Academy (MSA) teamed up to hold an event called “Your Story. Your Hero.” as a way to help stimulate creativity in the lives of children. Acting as a follow up to the “Me, Myself & I” program, which included children having their photograph taken and then having them create a painting-portrait of themselves all on their own, “Your Story. Your Hero.” allowed for these kids to learn about the key elements that go into making a character and a story while also getting the opportunity to construct a story of their very own.

It was a tremendous turnout as volunteers from CFPAF and teachers from MSA all pitched in to help make this event everything it could be. Leading the workshop was educator and a two-time Daytime Emmy-Nominated screenwriter Rodney Stringfellow. Stringfellow has written for Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Disney Channel, PBS Kids and Sesame Workshop. Some of his hit shows include Backyardigans, Taina, Bubble Guppies, The Wonder Pets, Little Einsteins, Word-World and Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures.

Stringfellow started the workshop by going through a few slides and explaining to the children all the key elements that go into making a story whole. Stringfellow would then ask the cliff if they were to create a superhero, what would their name be? Or what kind of powers would they have? Not only that, but that hero also needed to have a weakness, a background story and most importantly, something unique that has to do with the individual who created it.

Throughout the presentation, Stringfellow was engaging with all the kids and able to relate to them on a number of levels. Beth Bogush, executive director of CFPAF, commented, “Rodney is an accomplished individual and he truly is a great role model for these kids. We love to introduce kids to these different role models and to show them that their hopes and dreams are possible to achieve if they have the passion to see it through.”

Stringfellow really brought the room to life; you could see the pure joy and emotion from all of the children. Each student received the opportunity to share their superhero story with the class and explain how they came up with their character. Bogush went on to say, “Inspiration gives individuals hopes and dreams of what they could do. I was never a good writer, but I was creative. Sometimes when someone offers up an opportunity, you don’t know what you are capable of unless you take that chance.”

There was never a dull moment as these children jumped at the opportunity to create their own stories and all their laughter along the way was just icing on the cake of what couldn’t have been a better day. Dirk Bedford, principal of MSA, stated, “We are always excited to give our students the unique opportunity to be creative and think outside the box. This workshop was an excellent way for our kids to meet new people and for them to see themselves as artists.”

On the horizon, CFPAF will be holding another event called “Play Ball for All! 2019” on August 24 at the Charleston RiverDogs Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Ballpark. Partnering with the Special Olympic and The Charleston RiverDogs, the ballpark will come alive with art and music-based activities designed for children of all abilities, backgrounds and circumstances.

Children and their families will have the opportunity to play modified sports games, create art projects, decorate costumes, sing, move and make friends. Bogush stated, “Our goal is to showcase talent in the area and to bring families and organizations together to hopefully build long-lasting relationships. But most importantly, we want to celebrate the kids.”

Musical highlights will include a performance from The Voice’s Mia Zanottie Burns and Platinum and Multi-Grammy nominated producer Don “Destin” Daws, who has composed and produced music for artists such as Drake and Nicki Minaj. The gates will be open to the public on August 24 at 4:05 p.m. and the game will start at 5:05 p.m. This event will be a great opportunity for families to enjoy a fun day at “The Joe” while getting to participate in a variety of activities throughout the day. So, remember to save the date and come “Play Ball!”

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