Youth-run concert features youth to help youth

Robert Williams | Telegraph-Journal
April 4, 2018
ROTHESAY • It's a concert run by youth, featuring youth, to help youth living in poverty.
The Rothesay Netherwood School's annual Youth for Youth concert is set to run Saturday at the Susan B. Ganong Theatre in Rothesay.
The concert was re-branded three years ago from the original Singer/Songwriter Circle, partnering with the Saint John Teen Resource Centre as a student-led initiative to give back to the community at large.
"What the concert is doing is it is raising awareness about the issues of youth poverty and homelessness in Saint John," said teacher advisor Cody Alderson. "It's all aimed at getting the kids talking about the issues that really happen just down the road from the school."
Saint John has the highest child poverty rate among major cities in the country at about 30 per cent. In some of the priority areas, that number is approaching 50 per cent, according to figures from the Saint John Human Development Council.
It isn't a problem happening somewhere else, said Mira Stephenson, it's happening down the road.
"It's why awareness is one of our focuses," she said. "We want the students to have that moment where they realize that this is a major issue, and our hope is that this can be a turning point for them in popping that bubble."
Stephenson, 18, has been helping organize the concert since she was in Grade 10. This year, she said, social media has become a major priority, and the council hopes to get the event trending in the area.
Though Alderson lends a guiding hand, he is the first to admit this is a purely student-led initiative.
"That's the best part of the show," he said. "We have a passionate group of kids here that say, 'it's okay, we can talk about these things, we can learn about these things and we can try and do something about them."
From alternative to rock, pop, punk and folk, the concert features local talent across all genres.
And that is in large part due to Martha Pitre, a Grade 12 musician who has performed at the concert for the last four years.
Fiddling since she was three, Pitre has been competing on the national stage since she was 12 years old, and has become a regular in the New Brunswick music community.
The lineup is comprised largely based on her connections, and marks the last year of her involvement lining up artists and managing the show. Until she comes back as an alumna, of course.
"Especially for this show, what's special is that it's youth-led and all the performers are young people and we're doing it for youth initiatives in the area," she said. "So it certainly adds a different element."
The show opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Ticket, $15 for adults, $10 for students, can be purchased by calling 506-847-8224, or through Youth for Youth social media accounts.