Over the week of October 4 - 10, Blue Devils Manager and Tour Director Pete Emmons and System Blue Live Events Manager Pat Seidling traveled to South Africa to take part in the national championship of the Field Band Foundation. The trip serves as the beginning of The Blue Devils' commitment to support the Field Band Foundation via the corps "One Music One World" initiative, made possible by a grant from Chase Community Giving.
Through the "show band" style, the Field Band Foundation (FBF) creates lifetime opportunities for the youth of South Africa through the discipline and creativity of music and movement. With 36 performing groups - and growing annually! - the organization provides performance opportunities for more than 5,000 youth. The Field Band Foundation is an award winning non-profit that has garnered praise worldwide for their successes in enriching lives and building futures.
Among many activities, Emmons and Seidling visited a school in the Alexandria township and were able to see up-close the positive impact music education has on these young people. They were also able to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Field Band Foundation's partnership with the Norwegian Band Federation. Through a deep commitment to student exchange and material support, the Norwegian Band Federation serves as a model to the Blue Devils as the corps develops its own FBF partnership strategy.
"The FBF is a very impressive organization indeed" states Seidling, "The depth of support they have from world-wide philanthropic foundations, businesses, corporations and governmental agencies speaks to the nature of their mission."
Emmons and Seidling also spent two days at the Field Band Foundation National Championship, held at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. Two classes of nine bands each, selected from Townships across South Africa, came to perform, celebrate and compete. Emmons and Seidling took the opportunity to meet the various corporate sponsors of the event and most importantly spent time on the field, at the stadium gate and in the back lot meeting the young people who teach and perform in these very special bands.
"Being so close to these young people was truly inspirational," says Emmons. "I'm told that some of these kids have never traveled outside their Townships, and to witness their excitement at being in a big stadium in a large city was priceless."
Through the Blue Devils "One Music One World" platform, the Blue Devils will partner with the Field Band Foundation's USA office, helping promote the work of the Field Band Foundation, which includes an intense focus on AIDS prevention. The FBF provides a comprehensive HIV and AIDS education program that offers accurate and complete information to help members guide their behavior to protect themselves. Initial Blue Devil efforts will include involvement at FBF special events stateside, as well as providing material support and an on-going student-teacher exchange program.
"We believe that the mission of the Field Band Foundation is universal," states Blue Devils Executive Director David Gibbs. "Music, education, life skills and improving young people's quality of life through wellness is at the core of what we do, and to support a world-wide effort such as the Field Band Foundation is an exciting way for us to begin our 'One Music One World' initiative."
To learn more about the Field Band Foundation, visit www.fieldband.org.za. To learn more about the Blue Devils visit bluedevils.org.