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New community group looks to bring local teens together

Date: 9/20/2010

Sept. 20, 2010

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW -- The community action group, Change in Action, is hoping to make a big splash with their first event, Instrumental Change, on Sept. 26.

Instrumental Change, which will feature entertainment by bands consisting of local teens, is set for 2 to 6 p.m. at the Longmeadow Community House. It is the first in what organizers hope will be be a series of events by the group, which is designed to increase a sense of community and create an environment free of bullying.

"Change in Action's main goal is to help create a culture among our youth where bullying is less likely to occur at all," Jackie Neiman, co-president of Change in Action, said. "This is a chance for kids who usually wouldn't be at the same place together to interact over something fun and less intimidating."

The focus of Change in Action, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization, stems from the African philosophy Ubuntu, which stresses community respect and responsibility.

"Roughly translated, it means 'humanity towards others,' or 'my humanity is tied your humanity,'" Neiman said. "It's basically the idea of 'I am because we are' that Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Bill Clinton have talked about in the past, meaning that I understand that my actions affect the well-being of the community."

"It's a very African concept that is really beautiful. It's a cultural idea that's lived by in African societies that just isn't found here," she added.

Change in Action plans to create opportunities for young people to gain that sense of community by hosting social events that cater to their interests.

"It's one thing when kids hear adults talking about this kind of behavior, but if kids see other kids modeling this behavior, I think it sends a much stronger message," Neiman said.

To help in the process, the group has eight students that act as advisors to its board and assist in organizing activities that will attract young people.

"I feel strongly that if kids don't buy into this all the way, it's going to fall flat on its face," Neiman said. "We're trying to make this as appealing to kids as possible."

The Instrumental Change event will consist of two parts. Inside the Community House, bands such as the Van Buren Boys, Griffin McMahon, Boarderline, Aftermath and Steve Barnet, will perform on stage.

Outside, there will be a host of activities, ranging from a community mural where one can draw pictures relevant to the group's theme to mini-clinics by the local sports teams. There will also be a bake sale and a community raffle.

"It's a chance for kids to interact and maybe get involved in things they normally would not," Neiman said. "For example, if a kid is interested in playing or learning about football, but was too intimidated to sign up, now there is an opportunity to get to know a little bit about it."

For more information about Change in Action, its message and future events, go to

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