Programs deliver inspirational results to local youth
By Janaesha Glasco
Music and dance are not only inspirational but also a way of life. The programs 3:11 Youth Housing, Girls Rock Grand Rapids (GR!GR) and Dance Spire show that music and dance can help inspire teens in the Grand Rapids area.
All the programs help build self-esteem, encouraging teens to do what they want and to help them get somewhere in life so they won’t be on the streets. Each program is different and affects youth in different ways, but they all have music in common. The 3:11 program began in 2012 when newlyweds Jonathan and Lauren Vankeulen had a “dream” from God to build a house for youth. The Vankeulens wanted to help youth and give them somewhere to stay. Girls Rock wanted to help empower girls (Ages 8 to 16) to recognize, understand and respond to discrimination.
Deavondre Jones the creator of DanceSpire wanted to dance and be an inspirational speaker so he put both in one to help the youth. Jones mixed two skills together to deliver meaningful inspirational messages to teens and people of all ages. Jones wanted to inspire our youth to not be afraid to do what you want “Dont be afraid of fear itself” he said.
GR!GR Committee President, Steffanie Rosalez, said the program got started when local musicians contacted and asked her to start a rock camp in August of 2013. Rosalez says the purpose of the program is to empower girls and women to be whatever they want to be, and work together, identify their own strengths.
“We encourage campers to learn a lot about themselves through music”, said Rosalez. Getting equipment was a challenge but they overcame it through their supporters including,The Cook Arts Center and Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities, donors and the community. The camp provides the girls a variety of practical skills through the myriad of workshops such as flyer-making, logo creation and zine printing.
Research shows that music and the arts add a substantial amount to a child’s development. Sound engages the entire brain, assisting greatly in its growth. The arts prove to strengthen problem-solving and critical-thinking skills; playing a central role in cognitive, motor and language development. Music instruction in particular develops self-discipline, provides an opportunity for the left and right brains to function together, and enhances math proficiency.
“During the first year of camp, I was able to witness how therapeutic and exciting the activity of playing musical instruments, “said Bridget Breneman, Community Outreach Coordinator. “Girls found their inner strength and creativity, while enriching their lives in the process.”
All three of the programs help make a positive change. 3:11 Youth Housings help get majority of our teens off the streets and give them somewhere they feel they belong.
“Our youth will go on the site after seeing a flyer on the streets, thats helping most teens stay out of trouble.” said Mrs.Vankeulens..
GR!GR helps girls follow their dreams and inspires them to do what they want. GR!GR actually gives the girls a chance to show off what they learned so some students can start their own band or start a musical thing. At the end of the Girls Rock camp session they perform original songs on stage for the community. Jones helps inspire people into doing what they want and to not let one thing stop them. He uses his own experience to inspire youths because he didn’t give up on his dreams. Today Jones is both a dancer and inspirational speaker.
Music and arts are not just entertainment for young minds. The arts can have a great effect on the lives of youth by changing minds, mood, and the way they look at life for the better.
Volunteer and Donation options
If you want to help volunteer for Girls Rock you can contact them on their website
If you want to donate to Girls Rock, they’re taking donations in many different ways like checks, in-kind donations, online donations and if you have musical equipment you don’t use that can come in handy as well. Their website is
If you are interested into helping volunteer for 3:11 Youth Housing you can contact Lauren at her email address: email@example.com or you can contact her husband Jon at his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to support Mr. and Mrs.Vankeulen you can donate, go on their website: http://www.3-11.org/#!support-us/ctzx and click on Donate
Taylor Fisher Harris