NEW BEDFORD — As the New Be music video festival kicked into gear at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center Wednesday night, host Tem Blessed had a question for those gathered:
‘Why are we here today?,” he said.
Erryn Jones was ready with a response: “Hope,” she called out.
The festival was the reveal of the “New Be, New Me” website (werunthisnb.com), encompassing a campaign that provides resources and links for youth to community programs and tips on how to better themselves — such as how to set up a checking account or buy a car – focusing on health and wellness, kids’ future and plans, community and passions.
It also marked the premiere of New Bedford native Samantha Johnson’s video “We Run This (With Pride)”
Jones, wellness and public speaking teacher at Our Sisters’ School, said there were about 25 participants from OSS in the video.
“It brought tears to my eyes to see the work these kids did,” she said. Also from Dream Out Loud, she was the assistant director of the video. It’s about “getting (kids) to understand it’s more about themselves,” she said.
Ben Gilbarg, director and producer of the video, said he had the idea to create an anthem for the city which was written and recorded by Johnson. His idea was “to try to inspire young people to grow more positively.”
The owner of Visionary Communications, Gilbarg told the audience, “There’s an inner fire that burns in each one of you.” He said some of them may live with a single parent, no longer have parents or may be in foster care. “We know the issues you’re facing,” he said.
“Still, all you guys are special and are just worth everything,” Gilbarg said.
While last year’s “America’s Got Talent” semi-finalist Johnson was unable to attend, about 200 turned out to see her new video, as well as those by other local musicians Matthew Neves and Koda and Sky from the Youth Ambassadors Program (YAP).
The “We Run This” video featured kids picking up trash, riding bikes, exercising, doing their homework and being positive in the community.
Shadeh Mokolo, 16 said she liked all the videos, but Johnson’s was her favorite. “It was really good,” she said of the event. Standing beside Mokolo, Keyaree Perkins, 15 said she decided to go to attend after seeing it advertised at her school – the Global Learning Charter School.
At the end of the program, Gilbarg called those onstage who took part in making the video. He gave the mic to a few kids who said it was a great opportunity and they had fun.
Roberto Torres, 11 didn’t get to see himself on the big screen that night because he wasn’t in the video, but he caught one of the T-shirts being tossed into the audience.