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Yes I Can Students to Hold Fundraiser Feb. 29

Special-needs students seek dollars for annual Summer Meltdown concert

Posted: February 27, 2008 3:15 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Yes I Can, the Hart district's organization for students with special needs, will hold a fundraiser on Friday at MB2 Raceway in Sylmar, with proceeds funding the group's annual Summer Meltdown concert May 10 at the Golden Valley High outdoor amphitheater.

Performing at the fundraiser will be Vokee, a band from the NoHo Arts District that blends electronic, groove and alternative music; and Urban Assault, a six-piece group with an aggressive urban-rock style.

The fundraiser begins at 4 p.m. and the band performances will begin at approximately 8 p.m.

Yes I Can is a program that pairs mentors with special-needs students at William S. Hart Union High School District schools. The majority of Yes I Can students suffer from a high-functioning form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome, which deeply inhibits communication and social skills.

Out of the 21,000 students that the district serves, approximately 16 percent of those are at-risk students who are marginalized from the teen social scene. The "at-risk" label does not describe common juvenile court cases nor students from a broken home. These more than 3,300 students are at risk of becoming adults who are estranged from life's joys and achievements that come through normal social interaction.

Presently, they are marginalized from the world of the average teen. What they suffer from is not the burden of drug addictions but the weight of disorders. These special-needs students suffer from a range of disorders, mainly autism, that serve as walls separating them from normal self-initiated interaction with their peers.

But the Yes I Can program is seeking to tear down those walls through the joy of music and education.
During the Feb. 29 fundraiser, there will be go-kart racing and any attendee can race the Italian-made kart cars for which MB2 Raceway is famous.

Guests need to take a flyer promoting the fundraiser for a spot on the track, and to insure 15 percent of each participant's racing fee will go to Yes I Can. The flyer may be downloaded from the "new events" section of www.sponsorthemeltdown.com.

Bret Lieberman, Yes I Can advisor at Golden Valley High School, anticipates between 500 and 1,000 in attendance at MB2 Raceway. To direct the fundraiser's festivities, Lieberman will act as emcee for the evening. The parents of Yes I Can students will also be in attendance to help with various activities.

"We chose MB2 because the kids love this place," Lieberman said. "This is where they like to hang out on Friday nights."

The fundraiser will be sponsored by NLA, which designs and donates Summer Meltdown T-shirts; Higher Level Productions, which booked the bands and is donating the sound system; and Sick of Detention, the production company comprised of all the Yes I Can students from the Hart district who join forces to present the May 10 concert (formally known as the "Summer Meltdown Autism Awareness and Social Inclusion Concert").

To encourage growth, Yes I Can advisors have the students act as the primary liaison between the bands and the organization. The students call agents, band members and sponsoring businesses to arrange the marathon concert's activities.

"The major result from that has been a boost to their self-esteem," Lieberman said.

"Hey, I did that" is what Lieberman hears as T-shirts, fundraiser posters and sponsors' business cards arrive in anticipation of Feb. 29. This "Hey, I did that" attitude proves the students' own abilities to themselves, according to Lieberman.

On the night of the fundraiser, major growth will take place as the special needs students and their peers interact through a common joy: Music.

MB2 Raceway is located at 13943 Balboa Blvd., Sylmar.

For information about the Yes I Can fundraiser, as well as sponsorship opportunities for the Summer Meltdown event, visit www.sponsorthemeltdown.com or www.higherlevelshows.com, or call Bret Lieberman at (661) 298-8140.

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