“Today, I'm hungry and I'm ready for change / I run too far to still be the same / See who I was I give him away ... today.”
— “Today” by Kirk Franklin, gospel recording artist
Whiz Kids, a ministry of City Care, sponsored two flash mob dances that surprised and enlightened visitors at Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library and the congregation of LifeChurch.tv Northwest on Feb. 4.
“It's the newest hip way to bring attention to the issues you are trying to bring awareness to,” Masie Bross, Whiz Kids' executive director, said this week.
Whiz Kids partners inner-city churches and suburban churches, a total of 57, to offer free tutoring and mentoring to children in first through sixth grades at Oklahoma City area schools. The inner-city church agrees to provide a location for the one-on-one tutoring, and volunteers from both churches provide the lessons.
Bross said the flash mob featured several Whiz Kids tutors and students and members of the Carl Albert Middle School Choir. She said local Christian recording artist Marcy Priest and Jabee Williams, a local Christian rapper, also were part of the musical effort. Bross said the 2012 Leadership Oklahoma City Young Adult Leaders (LOYAL) class choreographed the routine and helped get members of the community to join in the dance.
Bross said flash mob presentation began with a student sitting in the library expressing his frustration about being unable to read a book. The student is offered help by a Whiz Kids tutor, and the dance routine begins to the music of “Today,” a song by gospel recording artist Kirk Franklin. Bross said the musical presentation ends with several students dancing in caps and gowns to show that the goal of Whiz Kids is to help students graduate from school and further their education.
Bross said the presentation at LifeChurch.tv, 5821 Northwest Expressway, began with a student expressing his irritation about not being able to read a Bible in the church's lobby area.
She said the lyrics of Franklin's song “Today” were changed a bit, but for the most part the song fit with the ministry's goal of helping children find educational success through immediate support from a positive adult.
“Today 90 percent of Oklahoma City (Public) School kids qualify for free and reduced lunch, and 74 percent of Oklahoma fourth-graders are reading below grade level. But today, Whiz Kids scored higher than their peers on the CRT (Criterion Referenced Test, a state mandated exam), and 1,000 volunteers are helping 900 kids,” Bross said.
Bross said she is hoping the flash mobs made people curious about Whiz Kids and perhaps made them wonder how they could become involved in the organization's efforts. Also, she is hoping that people will consider attending the ministry's seventh annual Seeds of Hope charity event or becoming a sponsor for the event.
The charity event will be March 27 at Cox Convention Center and feature keynote speaker Wes Moore, a youth advocate, Rhodes Scholar, White House fellow and the author of “The Other Wes Moore.” Bross said Moore's book tells the true story of how his life and the life of another youth with the same time took divergent paths though the two came from similar inner-city backgrounds.
Bross said Gerald McCoy, a Southeast High School graduate, former University of Oklahoma football star and defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL team, also will speak at the event.
Extended footage of the Feb. 4 flash mob will be shown as well, she said.
“We now have kids who have graduated from college who have never seen anyone in their family graduate from high school,” Bross said of Whiz Kids' success. We have students coming back and becoming tutors themselves, so we are absolutely changing families, giving them hope.”
Whiz Kids' Seeds of Hope charity event
• When: 6 p.m. March 27.
• Where: Great Hall, Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens.
• Tickets: $100 per person; sponsorships are available from planter's level ($1,200) to harvester's level ($5,000) and presenting sponsor ($10,000 or more).