Kids From Wisconsin work with local youth

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski In addition to the dance workshop, the Realize Your Dream workshop on Wednesday included a band clinic where children wrote their own compositions that were later performed by Kids From Wisconsin cast members.

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski A group of younger children ages 7-10 performs a dance routine at the end of the Realize Your Dream workshop on Wednesday.

Local children who always wanted to perform on stage or come up with their own song got to realize their dreams Wednesday as the Kids From Wisconsin rolled into Shawano.

The Kids hosted a Realize Your Dream workshop for children ages 7-14 where some kids learned a dance routine from this year’s traveling show and others participated in a band clinic where they composed their own music.

Leading Wednesday’s workshop was Shawano’s own Emily Jones. Now a sophomore at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the workshop ties directly into her career goal of being a music teacher.

“We started this workshop a couple of years ago mainly because, even though we do a lot of these concerts all over, we really wanted to be able to connect with the youth that we’re performing for,” Jones said. “We do a singing-dancing workshop and then a band clinic, but originally there was no band clinic.”

It was a year later that Kids From Wisconsin decided to get its band members on board — the cast includes band and choir members from high schools all over the state. The band clinic not only encourages songwriting but exposes children to music theory at an early age, according to Jones.

“What’s a quarter note? What’s a low note? A high note? Is this note long or short? That kind of thing,” she said. “The kids really like it.”

The overall goal is to get children interested in performing arts like music and acting at a young age, Jones said. She hopes some of the kids at Wednesday’s workshop will one day try out for Kids From Wisconsin.

“In some communities, these kids might not have opportunities otherwise to get a lot of that,” Jones said, noting she would have loved it if the Kids From Wisconsin had developed the Realize Your Dream program when she was still going through K-12 schools in Shawano.

Jones is in her second summer with the Kids, and she remembers how excited she was being able to see the shows and the elaborate routines that are done night after night in different communities all over Wisconsin.

Jones was pleased to be able to run the Shawano workshop, noting that seeing her, a hometown girl, in a big show like Kids From Wisconsin will make them realize that their performing dreams are attainable if they work at it.

“It’s definitely an opportunity that inspires kids to try out,” Jones said. “Many of the Kids in the troupe now went to outreach programs like this when they were younger.”