Passing it On: Rehearsing for Life Through the Arts
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Mike Lawlor
By Mike Lawlor,
SVP, Client Services ,
FreeWheel

When I moved to New York six years ago I was looking for an opportunity to support the local community, specifically underserved children. Prior to living here, I mentored as a Big Brother and knew first-hand the incredible, life-long impact programs like these can have on kids who otherwise might not know what opportunities exist for them. There are a ton of amazing organizations in NYC that provide mentorship to underserved kids, and when I was introduced to Rosie’s Theater Kids (RTKids), I was particularly impressed.

RTKids Junior Board in 2013

RTKids Junior Board in 2013 including BD Wong, Junior Board Chair Elizabeth Clinard, Zachary Quinto, Alyson Campbell Roy (front), Matthew Naclerio, Faisal Al-Juburi, and me (source: Broadway World)

RTKids exposes NYC children to the arts as a means by which to enable transformation – to see bigger possibilities for themselves.  Most of these kids come from schools in lower-income districts where performing arts education has been eliminated due to lack of funding.

5th grade is where RTK ignites the spark for kids who would otherwise never be exposed to a passion they never knew they had. Committed students then enter a more intensive program at RTKids, where they receive personalized training in arts, academic tutoring, SAT prep, college assistance, a structured environment and social services to help them graduate from high school and make it to college – a possibility many – if not most – of the kids would otherwise never have entertained.

But what inspired me the most were the kids themselves.  When I bring prospective RTKids supporters to an event, all it takes is to be exposed to the amazing talent, dedication, joy, and appreciation in every one of them and they are hooked. They absolutely blow me away every time I see them.

Passing it On 2016 (Source: Rosie’s Theatre Kids

Passing it On 2016 (Source: Rosie’s Theatre Kids, photographed by Rosalie O’Connor)

When I came to FreeWheel I was delighted that the company, and many of my colleagues, were interested in joining me in support of this organization. On May 22nd, FreeWheel participated as a co-sponsor –  along with our close friends at Nickelodeon – for Passing it On, the RTKids annual Spring benefit performance, living up to the company’s core value of being a deeply caring organization that supports the community.

Passing It On features RTKids students performing pieces under the development and mentorship of professional artists in the performing arts community. “Passing it On was absolutely incredible. RTKids is a great reminder of the importance and power of philanthropy and giving back,” shared Emily Bromley, Strategic Relationship Manager. “I am proud to work for such a deeply caring organization like FreeWheel that strives to give back to the local community through inspiring events like this.”

Team FreeWheel was also able to connect on a more personal level with our friends at Viacom, a FreeWheel client that also supports RTKids and Passing It On. It’s gratifying when we can join hands with our clients in support of such a worthy cause. We truly see all our clients as more than just business relationships, but friends and collaborators too.

The FreeWheel team at Passing it On

The FreeWheel team at Passing it On (Source: Rosie’s Theatre Kids, photographed by Rosalie O’Connor)

The goal of RTKids isn’t just to teach the arts, but also to “inspire excellence, motivate learning, uplift the human spirit, build confidence, and spark a lifelong appreciation for the arts.” These values will serve their students regardless of the career they later choose and throughout the course of their lives.  And being able to help these kids out just a little bit is one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done – and I’m proud to work for a company that supports our team and our community in what matters most in life.

Not convinced yet? Watch the video below to see what’s next and how to get involved:

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