The concept behind Girl Rock! Indianapolis is simple: Girls between the ages of nine and sixteen will attend a week-long day camp. Each camper will become part of a band, learn how to write songs, and perform in front of a live audience at the end-of-camp showcase. Furthermore, campers will take part in various workshops that relate to body image, self-esteem, and empowerment.
On the surface, it’s a fantastic idea. But if you’re considering enrolling your little sister, daughter, niece, or granddaughter in the program, you might have some concerns. Who is organizing this camp and what is their motivation? What kind of specific activities will the campers be involved in? How was the curriculum developed?
Last week I met with Sharon Rickson and Lindsay Manfredi from newly formed local rock band Neon Love Life to talk about the core goals of Girls Rock! Indianapolis. As we began to discuss the non-profit organization, Rickson quickly noted the history of the program. “Although Girls Rock! is new to Indianapolis, the organization has been around since 2001. It started in Portland, OR and has since expanded into cities such as Austin, Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, and Chicago.”
The camp structure is a proven process that boasts success across the country. “When I attended the Seattle camp [to observe and learn how to facilitate], they told me not to reinvent the wheel,” Rickson said of the program’s curriculum. “It’s been tweaked to address specific problems plaguing young females in Indianapolis (namely, obesity and teenage pregnancy), but it’s generally the same from one city to the next.”
Unfortunately, a universal syllabus doesn’t equate to a universal budget. The camp will be ran by a staff comprised entirely of volunteers, with all other expenses (equipment & supplies, legal processing fees, marketing, facility rental, etc.) covered by fund raising and sponsorship. While it’s a hefty amount of money to acquire, I notice a strong sense of pride radiate from Rickson and Manfredi as they elaborate on the grass roots foundation of Girls Rock! Indianapolis. “It is an independent venture, but we are definitely accepting donations from both individuals and local businesses,” Manfredi explains. “It’s important to have the Indianapolis community backing our efforts to give back to our city’s youth”.
And for Rickson and Manfredi, in the end, that’s what it’s really all about. With strong faith in the local arts and music scene, the women of Neon Love Life are using Girls Rock! Indianapolis as a vehicle to draw in young, innovative minds and give them safe outlets to explore their creativity, to learn that it’s okay to be different, and to respect and support their peers. “We’ve got to keep the underground alive,” Rickson says with passionate fervor in her eyes. “With everything being cut in schools, it’s our responsibility to step in.”
The next Girls Rock! Indianapolis fund raising event is this Thursday May 13th at Locals Only. As part of the weekly Butler Scion Free Thursdays, the evening will feature music from Mandy Marie & The Cool Hand Lukes, Neon Love Life, and Sugar Moon Rabbit.
If you’d like to support Girls Rock! Indianapolis by making a monetary or equipment donation, contact GirlsRockIndy@gmail.com. For volunteer forms or to register the young female in your life for rock camp, visit the Girls Rock! Indianapolis website.