By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Children will be helping other children at an arts festival set to take place at a Bay Ridge church on Jan. 26.
The Third Annual Children’s Choral & Arts Festival for Peace, to be held at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 7420 Fourth Ave., at 3 p.m., will feature the talents of dozens of kids from local schools who will sing songs of peace. The festival will also include an exhibition of art created by students in the Brooklyn Public Library’s “Explore and Create Art,” a class offered at the Bay Ridge Library.
The festival participants will include the Children’s Chorus of Bay Ridge, a 25-member vocal group, as well as students from Saint Saviour Catholic Academy, Leif Ericson Day School, Bay Ridge Prep, and PS 102.
The kids will be using their talents to promote peace and understanding between people, according to Rita Pihra-Majurinen, the festival’s co-director. “We all need to learn to get along because we all have to live together in this world. What better way than to start children?” she said. The songs to be performed will include "Shalom." The children will sing the lyrics in Hebrew and Arabic. Another number, "I Bid You Goodnight," is well known in the Bahamas.
Pihra-Majurinen, who is organizing the festival with co-director Julia Hurn, said the theme of the event is helping homeless children. A potion of the funds collected at the event will be donated to an effort to assist kids without homes. “Everyone wants to do something to help, but no one knows what to do. The issue of homelessness is just so huge,” she said.
In its now famous and highly lauded “Invisible Child” series, The New York Times reported in December that there are more than 22,000 homeless children in New York City, the highest number since the Great Depression.
“We have to look at the children’s needs. Their lives are in a constant upheaval. They are always having to move from one shelter to another. It would be great to give them some stability in their lives,” Pihra-Majurinen said.
The festival will also be dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela. “He’s one of the three ‘peace gurus’ if you will. He, Gandhi and Martin Luther King did so much to promote peace in the world. Mandela set a great example for people to follow,” Pihra-Majurinen said.
In its inaugural year, 2012, the festival was dedicated to helping the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Last year, the festival was turned into a fundraiser for Superstorm Sandy relief.
The idea of the festival is to bring diverse children’s music and arts organizations together to foster peace-building. The festival has grown larger each year, organizers said.
“By creating music and art for and with each other, we develop and deepen understanding, build bridges, practice tolerance, and foster a culture of peace in our local and global community,” the festival’s mission statement reads.
The afternoon will conclude with fun-filled activities for children, including an interactive art project, face painting, and refreshments.
For more information about the festival and the mission of the Children's Chorus of Bay Ridge, visit www.childrenschorusofbayridge.org.