By Joel Hall
Through job training, community service and the arts, Hearts to Nourish Hope has helped prepare local students to be productive members of the community.
This weekend, young people from the organization will perform an original musical to help raise money for its summer learning programs.
The Hearts to Nourish Hope Drama and Music Group will perform "Just Believe," on Friday at 8 p.m., and on Saturday at 1 p.m., at the organization's headquarters, located at 345 Scott Road in Riverdale.
Patrice Wuerth, program director for Hearts to Nourish Hope, said about 40 high school and college students have worked since January, writing, choreographing, and composing the musical score for the play.
"This is the fourth year we have been doing a big production like this," Wuerth said. "They are all original works ... they [the students] figure out what they are dealing with and they start writing. This is really unique, because it is an original musical ... It's almost like 'Fame.'"
Wuerth said the original musical touches on themes of teamwork, confidence and self-determination, and incorporates traditional show tunes, rap, and elements of stepping and percussion found in the musical, "Stomp."
Alexandria Robinson, 17, a rising senior at North Clayton High School, said being involved in the musical has helped her realize her potential and that she hopes viewers will come away with the same message.
"The play is basically about fulfilling your dreams," she said. "Originally, I [was a] very shy person. I feel like participating in this program really brings me out of my shell. I really want them to understand the message ... to follow whatever you want to do in life."
Deborah Anglin, executive director of Hearts to Nourish Hope, said proceeds from the play will benefit the organization's summer learning programs, which give students a chance to earn wages while being involved in positive activities.
Those activities include opportunities in drama, music, and video production, she said.
"We want to get them [the students] on track to be successful adults," she said. "This play is a creation of the students to send their message to the community. They develop all these skills ... and say to the community, this is what we can do when we are given an opportunity."
In additional to serving as community outreach for Hearts to Nourish Hope and its programs, the musical helps students realize the full range of their talents and abilities, Wuerth said.
"It feeds their creativity," she said. "When they are all finished, and they see the room full of people ... they really can learn that they can pull something together. It's really cool to see them come into their own.
"This is an outreach to the community," she continued. "It really gives them a voice. This is their place to say it and get it out."
Tickets for "Just Believe" are $5. For more information, call (770) 997-4511.