News

October 18, 2017

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and at Azalea Blossom Inc. we hope to spread awareness of this issue year-round. The “Bricks in the Wall” project was formed in March 2007 by the founder of Azalea Blossom Inc., Margaret Bernstein, with the aim of bringing awareness and education on the lesser known and publicized aspects of domestic violence to the general public. The project originally consisted of an album comprised of eleven original songs based on personal experience, a fully produced music video and a live tour promoting the messages of strength, courage and hope to battered women and the general public throughout New York State. Margaret and the Bricks band also invited domestic violence agencies to be a part of the concerts in order to share information to the audience members.

Follow:
Twitter: @azalea_blossom7, @BricksInTheWall
Instagram: @bricksinthewallproject

 

October 11, 2017
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To listen to the CD on Youtube, CLICK HERE

To buy and listen to samples of the CD, CLICK HERE

Visit our Soundcloud page here.

 

“I have never been so captivated by a children’s record as I was with Songs from SAFE through the arts. Not only is it fun learning for kids and adults alike, it also celebrates diversity and love. Totally addictive!” – Clayre Saxon, WildHeaven Entertainment

“This is lovely amalgam of some super compositions with a great line-up of singers and musicians that are truly delightful. Right from the opening ‘Super to Be Me’ to ‘I Can Be’, from ‘I Like you, and I Like Me’ to ‘Have You Heard the Word Bird’, there is great variety in the songs, something for everyone!” – Ricky Kej, Grammy® Award Winning Composer, Billboard #1 Artist, Global Peace Ambassador & Conservationist

 

Songs from SAFE through the arts Lyrics

1. Super to be Me (C) Margaret Jean Bernstein (P) Growing Azalea Music 2016

What do I have to do?
What do I have to be?
All that I have to know is that it’s super to be me!
What do I have to say?
What am I suppose to see?
All that I need to know is that it’s super to be me!”
I’m brave.
I’m strong.
I’m patient.
I am smart.
I’m caring.
I’m happy.
I’m kind and I take heart.
What do I have to do?
What do I have to be?
All that I need to know is that it’s super to be me!
I’m able.
I’m clever.
I’m helpful.
I’m polite.
I’m honest.
I’m loving.
I’m friendly.
I am bright.
What do I have to do?
What do I have to be?
All that I need to know is that it’s super to be me!
What do I have to say?
What am I suppose to see?
All that I need to know is that it’s super to be me!
It’s super to be me.
It’s super to be me! I’m super!

2. Teacher Beaver’s Preamble (C) Margaret Jean Bernstein (P) Growing Azalea Music 2016

“What can you do with your happy hands?
Raise your hand with you happy hands!
Now wave your hand with your happy hands.
Shake your friend’s hand with your happy hands.
Can you hit a ball with your happy hands? (Yes!)
Can you punch a wall with your happy hands?  (No!)
Can you hit a friend with your happy hands? (No!)
Can you clap your hands with your happy hands? (Yes!)
What can you do with your friendly feet?
Can you kick a ball with your friendly feet? (Yes!)
Can you kick a wall with your friendly feet? No!
Can you kick a friend with your friendly feet? No!
Can you skip and run with your friendly feet? Yes!
Can you climb up stairs with your friendly feet? Yes!
Can you jump around with your friendly feet? Yes!
Can you ride a bike with your friendly feet?” Yes!

3. Happy Hands and Friendly Feet (C) Margaret Jean Bernstein (P) Growing Azalea Music 2016

I’ve got happy hands and friendly feet.
I show them to everyone I meet!
I’ve got happy hands and friendly feet.
I show them to everyone I greet!
What can you do with your happy hands?
I can draw a picture with my happy hands.
I can play with toys with my happy hands.
I can write my name with my happy hands.
What can you do with your happy hands?
I can eat my food with my happy hands.
I can bounce a ball with my happy hands.
I can wave “Hello” with my happy hands.
I’ve got happy hands and friendly feet.
I show them to everyone I meet!
I’ve got happy hands and friendly feet.
I show them to everyone I greet!
I’ve got happy hands and friendly feet.
I show them to everyone I meet!
I’ve got happy hands and friendly feet.
I show them to everyone I greet!
What can you you do with your friendly feet?
I can hop and jump with my friendly feet.
I can climb up trees with my friendly feet.
I can run around with my friendly feet.
What can you you do with your friendly feet?
 I can dive and swim with my friendly feet.
I can stand in line with my friendly feet.
I can skip and dance with my friendly feet.

4. I like you and I like Me (C) Margaret Jean Bernstein (P) Growing Azalea Music 2016

I like you and I like me.
I’m so proud of who I can be.
I’m going to do
All I can do
To be kind to me
And be kind to you!
I like you and I like me.
I’m so proud of who I can be.
I’m gonna do
All I can do
To be kind to me
And be kind to you!
Yo te gusto y yo mi gusto.

Estoy orgu

October 4th 2017

Curriculum

The curriculum for the SAFE through the Arts program is based the three key components of the program: Self- Affirmation (building self-esteem); Financial literacy (awareness of self-worth and value); and Education of non-violence (learning to get along and cooperate with others). Students engage in hands-on arts-based activities, which are developmentally appropriate for PreK and kindergarten students including drawing, singing, drumming, dance and dramatic role play. Weekly writing exercises in the specially designed SAFE through the arts student handbooks are integrated into the program. In addition, puppet shows aimed at teaching lessons related to the key components are an integral part of the program. Furthermore, the sixteen characters of the SAFE through the arts program specifically reflect the diverse populations within the public schools of New York City and New York State’s Capital Region.

The lessons, which are reinforced through the SAFE through the arts seven-week program are as follows:

  • It’s super to be me!
  • I use my Happy Hands and Friendly Feet
  • It’s okay to be different
  • I can be anything I want to be
  • I have value
  • I can use my kind and polite words
  • I can STOP and count to ten
  • We all can learn how to get along with others

Students learn specific tools to help them learn how to empower themselves, build self-esteem and appropriately express and manage their emotions. By the end of the seven-week program, even Bully Bear learns how to respect himself and be kind to others! In addition, Core curriculum indicators and NYS learning standards and are integrated into the daily lessons. A handbook filled with activities related to the program supplements the weekly classes and a CD of songs accompany the program reinforcing the important lessons of SAFE through the arts.

September 27th, 2017

Leadership Interview with Founder of SAFE through the arts

“Hello Everyone!

I am Kristen Marlene Amrhein from the Growing Azalea Music team. I work as the Office Manager/Director of Licensing and Publishing. I am currently a senior at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. I am taking a course on Leadership. We are learning the different styles of leadership, qualities, traits, weaknesses, and strengths of a leader. My professor assigned us a project in which we had to interview someone who we think is a great leader. I thought Margaret Bernstein would be the perfect person to interview for this project. I got to know Margaret a little better. Down below are some of the questions I asked her:”

K: What is your definition of leadership?
M: My definition of a leader is someone who guides and inspires others.

K: What is your leadership philosophy?
M: My philosophy of leadership is to use one’s personal inner strength and wisdom as well as the power within his/her role of leadership in order to empower others.

K. How did you learn to lead?
M. As with everything else in my life, I learned how to lead by doing it. I began organizing community events when I was nine years old beginning with a carnival at my house in order to raise money for Cerebral Palsey and then continuing with a series of events to raise money for UNICEF when I was fifteen and a town-wide bike-a thon for March of Dimes when I was seventeen.

K. Looking back at your early years, what influenced you?
M. I grew up literally surrounded by strong and creative people. My parents were both dancers and dance teachers and definitely had a strong effect on my life including the fact that they made sure I had private music lessons from an early age. The mother of the friends who lived across the street from me was an English professor and was responsible for editing our street newspaper (The “Willow Rag”) to which we all contributed at an early age. I also attended the Waldorf School in Garden City where students are trained to become individual and creative thinkers and doers.

K. What events and individuals have had the greatest impact?
M. In addition to my parents (My father was the chairman of the dance department at Adelphi University and my mother had been a soloist with the Royal Ballet in London), there were three very strong women who had the greatest influence on my life. These were my Great Aunt, Katerina Forbes Dunlop,  who was headmistress of the oldest girls’ boarding school in England and who tutored privately until she was ninety-seven years old; My Godmother, Margaret Craske, who taught both my parents ballet and who taught ballet in New York City until she was ninety-four years old; and my Nana, Catherine Furey, who taught me to stand on my own feet and also pray at an early age and who lived to be one hundred and ten years old. What these three incredible women had in common was compassion, dedication, tenacity and rock solid Faith.

K. Where did you grow up?
M. I grew up in Garden City, Long Island, a suburb of New York City.

K. What is your current position?
M. I am currently the founder and owner of Growing Azalea Music productions, an independent music publishing, record label and production company specializing in “Socially Awakened Songs and Uplifting Instrumentals”. I am also the Founder and Director of Azalea Blossom, Incorporated, a 501 c3 non profit organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and education of domestic, social and child abuse and the SAFE through the arts bullying prevention program.

K. What is your educational background?
M. I have a Bachelors of Music degree in Flute Performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and a Masters of Music in Flute Performance, which I obtained through a full tuition merit scholarship, from Arizona State University. I also took educational courses at Russell Sage College in Troy, New York and hold two New York State teachers’ certifications- one in music (N-12, instrumental and vocal) and one in Prek-6 multi-subject education. I also studied at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College program for three years during high school in addition to my regular academic high school.

K. What other experiences helped qualify you for your current role?
M. Growing up as an only surviving child, I learned from an early age to rely on myself and forge my own way. I started my own record label and founded an international week-long positive peer support retreat for teenagers when I was still in my twenties. I was trained to use my creativity to problem solve and have always been used to creating my own path.

K. Why do you feel inspired to be in a leadership role?
M. It is important to me to rise up to my highest self and use my fullest potential in order to help others. My goal is always to use my strengths and talents in order to help others. I always strive to bring people together in order to make a positive impact in the world.

K. What do you feel are the most important qualities that a leader must posses?
M. I believe that it is imperative for true leaders to possess compassion and humility. A good leader must also have a clear vision with relevant experience and some practical knowledge of how to achieve that vision. It is also important for a leader to be accepting and embrace differences and have an open mind to new ideas. A true leader must learn the importance of balance, both in ones personal and professional life in order to be able to affective in leadership.

K. How do you ensure that your team is moving forward in the same direction?
M. Communication is key. It is vital that everyone is on the same page. Motivation and mutual respect are also key factors. When team members feel motivated as well as respected and valued, it is easier to move forward as a team.

K. When were you dissatisfied with your leadership?
M. Whenever there seems to be a breakdown in communication and a lack of motivation for whatever reason by team members, it can be easy to feel discouraged. Whenever this happens, I realize that it is time to try a new approach and find ways to galvanize team spirit again.

K. In what situation did you find the greatest fulfillment?
M. A team is like a wheel with the spokes being the members of the team. A team is as strong as its spokes. When everyone is working together on a project and achieving success, it is incredibly satisfying, especially when everyone is taking pride in their accomplishments and being a part of the team. One example of this is when my team and I were working on producing a CD, Songs from SAFE through the arts. In a very short time, we had the CD completed, distributed and submitted for a Grammy nomination. We could not have done this without everyone on the team doing their part and taking pride on being on a winning team.

K. What advice can you offer for other aspiring leaders?
M. It is important for aspiring leaders to trust their own intuition and follow their own voice and dreams. People will try to persuade you to do this or that but only you know what your true calling is and what potentials lie within you. With that being said, it is equally important that aspiring leaders educate themselves and learn from other leaders. Be willing to experience new things and make mistakes.Celebrate every success along the way. Learn time management and good communication skills. Be grateful and humble always. Last bit not least, remember to breathe, laugh and drink plenty of water!

September 20th 2017

Slider I Can Be

 

SAFE through the Arts is a bullying prevention program, which utilizes the creative and performing arts in order to empower young children. It is currently geared towards PreK and kindergarten classrooms in urban public schools within New York City’s five boroughs and Upstate New York’s Capital Region. Our priority is to bring the program into schools serving economically challenged and culturally diverse populations.

The program is based upon three key components: Self–Affirmation (Self-esteem), Financial literacy (Self-worth and value), and Education of non-violence (Getting along with others). These key components lay the foundation to build empowered human beings who have an understanding of their own unique strengths and talents. Through the integration of the three key components, students learn how they can positively contribute to their communities, accept and embrace differences within themselves and their peers, and communicate compassionately with one another. In addition, students gain exposure to a variety of creative and performing arts, which they can use for self-expression and creative problem-solving.

The three key components also lay the basis for the curriculum of the program, which incorporates singing, drawing, movement, dramatic role play and drumming. In addition, puppet skits featuring our sixteen unique characters are an integral part of the SAFE through the arts program. Through original songs and scripts, these characters teach children important life lessons. Word Bird teaches children how to use their kind and polite words; Charlie Chipmunk and Friendly Frog teach children how to use their “Happy Hands and Friendly Feet” at all times, and Teacher Beaver helps children discover their unique selves while getting along with others. The SAFE through the arts puppet characters were each created specifically to represent the cultural demographics found in the cities of New York’s Capital District and New York City public schools.

The SAFE through the arts program takes place in five PreK and kindergarten classrooms in each school once a week for the duration of seven weeks. Each class is one hour in length. As a program of Azalea Blossom, Incorporated, an educational non-profit 501c3 organization, SAFE through the arts is a free service to schools completely supported by grants and donations. Each classroom participating in the SAFE through the arts program receives a CD of songs used in the program, an informative teacher handbook, and colorful SAFE through the arts handbook for each child in the class.

Why the SAFE Through the Arts Program is important:

Due to the extreme upheaval and chaos in our world and country at present, there has never been a greater need for bullying prevention education and the arts in our schools.
Students from all backgrounds and cultures need to build their self-confidence as well as to learn tools to help them cope and thrive in an increasingly controversial society.

Children who have been exposed to SAFE through the arts are more easily able to identify positive attributes within themselves than children from the similar demographics and cultural backgrounds who have not been participated in SAFE through the arts. In addition, children who have participated in SAFE through the arts have are able to more easily able to employ their imaginations through dramatic role play and writing and drawing exercises in order to visualize themselves as prosperous, positively contributing members of our society in the future. Furthermore, students who have participated in SAFE through the arts are more aware of how to appropriately express their emotions towards others. They are also more likely to integrate the values of self-love, cooperation, accepting others who are different, speaking kindly to one another, and treating one another with respect.and compassion. These are all important skills, which children when taught at a young age, will carry with them into adulthood.

Music has been proven to be an important tool for learning academic subjects including math. The incorporation of songs reaffirming the positive messages and key components of SAFE through the arts help to make the program effective. Also, music, along with the other art modalities integrated into the program, is an important tool for expression and creative problem-solving. In addition, SAFE through the arts includes thirteen New York learning standards and many core curriculum requirements for PreK and kindergarten while also addressing character education requirements.The use of the multiple learning theory within the program ensures that each student, regardless of how they learn, will be able to absorb the vital life lessons taught during the SAFE through the arts program.

The following are testimonies from past SAFE through the arts participants on why the program is so important:

“It t helps people who are not brave to stand up for themselves.”
“It shows you how to feel confident and believe in yourself always”.
“I learned that you should always believe that you are beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“ I learned how to stay centered and to always believe in myself”.
“The program teaches students how to be kind and respectful.”
“I learned how to protect myself and stand up for others.”
“The program inspired me to do things I’ve never dreamed of doing before!”

September 13th 2017

Meet The Characters!

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September 6th 2017

Testimonies From SAFE Participants

The best testimonies of SAFE through the arts are from children who have participated in the program expressing themselves as confident human beings.
Below are some of writing and drawing examples from children who have been exposed to the SAFE through the arts program.

In addition, following are testimonies from middle school students who have previously participated in the program.

“It is an important program because it helps people who are not brave to stand up for themselves.”

“This is an important program because it shows you how to feel confident and believe in yourself always”.

“I learned how to go to my tree place when I am upset or mad. I also learned how to not give up and to keep believing in myself.”

“I learned how to believe in myself.”

“I learned to take care of myself and that we can use music to express ourselves.”

“The program showed us how to express oneself through Art!”

“I learned that you should always believe that you are beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

“I think the program is important because it teaches you to believe in yourself and everyone needs that.”
“ I learned how to stay centered and to always believe in myself”.

“The program teaches students to be kind and respectful.”

“I learned how to protect myself and stand up for others.”

“The program inspired me to do things I’ve never dreamed of doing before!”

 

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August 30th, 2017

The Three Key Components of  SAFE through the Arts

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Key 1: Self-Affirmation

What is Self-Affirmation?

  • Self-Affirmation is any thought or action that affirms the positive qualities that are part of our own unique self.
  • Self-Affirmation is taking responsibility for validating our intentions and aspirations without the approval of others.
  • Self-Affirmation is believing in one’s own ability to reach our highest potential in spite of challenges or obstacles.
  • Self-Affirmation is loving and approving of oneself without the external influence of media or the opinions of others. 
  • Self-Affirmation is upholding our values, inner truths, and integrity above peer pressure. 
  • Self-Affirmation is empowering ourselves through self-awareness and learning to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Why is Self-Affirmation important?

Self-Affirmed individuals (people with high esteem who have a clear perspective of their abilities, talents, and goals) are much less likely to become involved in and/or remain in relationships based upon power and control. 

How does the SAFE through the Arts program address Self-Affirmation?

SAFE through the Arts encompasses Self -affirmation by addressing the following: 

  • Celebrating our unique selves by affirming our strengths, interests, passions, abilities and goals through dance (movement sequences) and art (collage).
  • Building self –esteem through participation in the Arts, embracing one’s own ethnicity and encouraging participation in school and community activities., 
  • Learning how to take care of ourselves emotionally by integrating tools to help us cope with grief, loneliness, and anger.
  • Learning how to take care of ourselves physically by taking care of our bodies through proper nutrition and exercise.
  • Learning how to center oneself through meditation and visualization exercises.


Key 2: 
Financial literacy

What is Financial literacy?

  • Financial literacy is knowing how to manage ones’ own financial resources.
  • Financial literacy is having control over and being able to make choices on how to save and spend one’s own money.
  • Financial literacy is learning how to keep a  healthy balance between spending and earnings.
  • Financial literacy is financial empowerment.

Why is Financial literacy important?

Many people stay in abusive relationships because they are dependent upon the other person for financial support.  When we learn to achieve financial independence, we can make educated choices regarding staying in or leaving relationships that are not based upon financial dependence.

How does the SAFE through the Arts program address Financial literacy?

SAFE through the Arts encompasses financial independence by addressing the following: 

  • Understanding the importance of getting an education, obtaining a job, and opening up one’s own bank account as the three important steps to becoming financially independent. 
  • Learning the process of applying for a job including interviewing and how to write a cover letter, resume, and follow-up letter. 
  • Learning more about the different types of jobs and careers that are available for teenagers and adults, and how to visualize and find employment.
  • Learning the basics of banking including what types of accounts are available, the importance receiving interest through income-bearing accounts and the danger of accruing debt through the use of credit cards. 
  • How to stand up to someone who is trying to stop us from achieving our financial goals.


Key 3: 
Education of non-violence

  • What is Education of Non-violence?
  • Education of Non-violence involves learning how to create relationships based upon equality, mutual sharing, respect, and trust.
  • Education of Non-violence is the process of learning to use words, actions, and thoughts that support and strengthen others, instead of hurting and breaking down self-esteem.
  • Education of Non-violence encompasses learning how to communicate based upon empathy, listening, and understanding rather than blaming, threatening, and condoning.
  • Education of Non-violence implies learning how to recognize and obtain a balance of power within a relationship as well as a willingness to work cooperatively.
  • Education of Non-violence is learning how to create a state of being in which love and harmony prevail over fear and control. 

Why is Education of Non-violence important?

It is only possible to seek and form healthy and loving relationships if we have models, guides, and tools from which we can form these relationships.

How does the SAFE through the Arts program address Education of Non-violence?

SAFE through the Arts encompasses Education of Non-Violence by addressing the following: 

  • Familiarizing oneself with the principals of non-violent communication.
  • Building listening skills based on rhythmic repetition (call and response).
  • Learning to recognize and express one’s feelings through journal writing,  vocabulary building and the creative and performing Arts. 
  • Learning to recognize signs of healthy relationships built upon mutual understanding, compassionate communication, and trust.
  • Creating tools for controlling anger, sadness, and other emotions through appropriate and productive avenues of expression.

August 23, 2017

Bunty’s Danceology

  • Hiawatha (Spirit of love, ensemble in the Spring Ballet), Royal Albert Hall, 1937
  • Charity Event for the waifs and strays ( (Spirit of a birthday cake), Royal Albert Hall, 1938 (attended by Queen Mary)
  • Birthday Party for Queen Mary (Spirit of a birthday cake), Grosvenor House, 1938
  • Beauty and the Beast Pantomime (Snowflake), Lyceum Theater, 1938
  • Imperial Society annual congress (German dancer), 1938
  • Queen of Hearts Pantomime (Cupid), Lyceum Theater, 1938 (costume made by Manya)
  • Cecchetti Society All Star charity event for the School for the Blind, (The Little Mermaid), (Choreography by Margaret Craske). (Also featured Anthony Tudor and Hugh Laing), London Palladium in Oxford Circus, 1938
  • La Concurrence (“The child”), ( ballet choreographed by George Balanchine with  the Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo, Covent Garden, 1939
  • The Sleeping Princess (AKA “Sleeping Beauty”), (Page to the Rose Fairy, Red Riding Hood), with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet), 1940
  • Coppelia (Coppelia the doll; soloist in the betrothal dance) With Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet), 1940
  • The Prospect Before Us (AKA “Pity the Poor Dancers), (A street urchin), with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet), 1940
  • Casse Noisette (AKA Nutcracker Ballet) (Mouse, Reed flute in Les Mirlitons) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • The Wise Virgins (cherub) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Dante Sonata (Child of Darkness) With Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Le Lac de Cygnes (AKA Swan Lake) (in quartet of the little swans in act 2 and a black cygnet in act 3; Solo in trio at ball) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Giselle (dancer in quartet in act 1 and will in act 2) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Facade ( an Ecossaise AKA “Scottish Dancer”; Soloist as the milkmaid) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Les Sylphides (a Sylph) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Comus (a pig) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Rake’s Progress (Dancer in tavern) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Les Patineurs (Soloist as Fouette’ Girl and Ice Skater) with Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet)
  • Lisbon Story (dancer), Palace Theater, London (1943)
  • Jenny Jones (dancer), London (1944)
  • Gay Rosalinda (member of the ballet), Palace Theater, London (1945)
  • London Town (dancer in the film choreographed by Agnes De Mille (1945)
  • Oklahoma (the girl who falls down) in the Broadway show choreographed by Agnes De Mille), St. James Theater, NYC  (1946)
  • Brigadoon (fish monger in the Broadway show choreographed by Agnes De Mille), Ziegfeld Theater, NYC (1947)
  • Rape of Lucretia (Prostitute in the opera choreographed by Agnes De Mille), Ziegfeld Theater, NYC (1948)
  • Brigadoon (Jean McLaren in the show choreographed by Agnes DeMille), Manchester Opera House and His Majesty’s Theater, London, UK (1949)
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Dancer in the Broadway show choreographed by Agnes De Mille), Ziegfeld Theater, NYC and at Palace Theater, Chicago (1951)
  • Neptune Music Circus (various roles in a collection of one week runs of shows including Brigadoon, Carousel, Bloomer Girl, Merry Widow, Desert Song and Annie Get Your Gun) Asbury Park, New Jersey (1952)
  • Ballet Theater (AKA American Ballet Theater), (Girl dancer), Rodeo (Ballet choreographed by Agnes De Mille), NYC (1952)
  • Aida, La Boheme, Cavalleria Rusticana, Salome and other operas (dancer and members of the chorus), Metropolitan Opera Company (1952)
  • Agnes De Mille’s Dance Theater on tour (1953-54), US and Canada
  • The Glenn Miller Story (Film featuring Gene Krupa and James Stewart), 1954
  • Oklahoma (The movie choreographed by Agnes De Mille), 1955
  • Guys and Dolls (The movie choreographed by Michael Kidd), 1955
  • Marty (The movie featuring Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair ),1955
  • Funny Girl (The movie featuring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire), 1956
  • Carousel (The movie choreographed by Rod Alexander), 1956
  • The Vagabond King (The movie choreographed by Hanya Holmes), 1956
  • Anything Goes (The movie choreographed by Roland Petit), 1956
  • The Best Things in Life are Free (The movie choreographed by Rod Alexander and Bill Foster), 1956
  • Black Bottom (a dance from “The Best Things in Life are Free” with Tex Hightower for Meher Baba), San Francisco, 1956
  • Pajama Game (The movie choreographed by Bob Fosse), 1957
  • Gun Fight at the OK Corral (The movie featuring Burt Lancester), 1957
  • Silk Stockings (Movie featuring Cyd Charisse and Peter Lorre choreographed by Eugene Loring) 1957
  • Goldilocks ( Maid in duet with Kelly Brown in Broadway Show Choreographed by Agnes De Mille ), Lunt Fontanne Theater, NYC  (1958-59)
  • Les Patineurs (Dance with Marie Adair, Peter Saul, Naomi Westervelt, Zebra Nevins, Joe Fabian, and Jean Cebron for Meher Baba), The Barn, Meher Center, Myrtle Beach , 1958

August 18, 2017

        Margaret Bernstein’s Mother, Bunty Kelley Bernstein, dies at age 92

Bunty dancing

Bunty dancing in Sleeping Beauty with the Royal Ballet in London during the 1930’s

Azalea Blossom’s Founder, Margaret Bernstein’s Mother, former dancer, Bunty Kelley Bernstein, passed away peacefully in her home in Delmar, New York on Thursday, August 17th, 2017 at the age of ninety two after a battle with cancer. At the request of Bunty, no funeral or memorial service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the SAFE through the arts bullying prevention program at Azalea Blossom, Incorporated, POB 21777, Brooklyn, NY, 11202 or at http://www.azaleablossom.com/support/donate

Bunty Kelley Bernstein (Nee’ Helen Margaret Douglas Kelley) was born on April 11, 1925 in London, England to Scottish parents- Nell Dunlop Kelley and John Douglas Kelley, an editor for Shell-Mex BP oil magazine. Bunty’s spent her childhood living in Chelsea, London and spending her holidays with her parents, her Great Aunt, Katerina Forbes Dunlop (the headmistress of the England’s oldest boarding
school) and her brother Peter in the sea-side town of Winchelsea in East Sussex. She began formal ballet lessons at age eight and went on to study with Margaret Craske and her assistant Mabel Ryan a few years later. Bunty began her professional career at an early age beginning with small character roles in movies and left school to pursue a full time position as a pantomime dancer at the age of twelve.

Bunty performed in La Concurrence, a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine, in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo before embarking upon a full time career with the Royal Ballet Company (then Sadlers Wells) in 1939. During the interim while the Sadlers Wells theater was closed during the Second World War, Bunty performed with the Rambert Ballet Company for noontime concerts. She continued to dance with Sadlers Wells when it reconvened in 1941 in order to perform for British troops in France and Belgium. Soon afterwards, Bunty performed in several musical shows including Lisbon Story, Jenny Jones and Gay Rosalinda in London before accepting a position with choreographer Agnes De Mille in the film ‘London Town”. In 1946, Bunty left London to join Ms. De Mille in America to perform in the production of Oklahoma on Broadway.

During her tenure with Agnes De Mille, Bunty performed various roles in numerous films and Broadway musicals. Some of the highlights included the following films: Oklahoma, , Carousel, Pajama Game, The Best Things in Life are Free, Anything Goes and Silk Stockings and the following musical shows: Oklahoma, Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, Goldilocks and Brigadoon (Broadway) and Brigadoon (London). In addition, she performed in California and in Myrtle Beach for the Indian Master Meher Baba of whom she was a devotee.

Bunty began her ballet teaching career while she was still performing beginning with private classes in Los Angeles and in New York City. She began teaching ballet classes at the Bronx House Music School and went on to teach at the Metropolitan Opera House where she taught until the early 1960’s. She began teaching in the Dance Department at Adelphi Univeristy under the Chairmanship of Harry Bernstein on Long Island in 1959 where she taught and eventually received status as Associate Professor until the early 1970’s. In 1960, she married Harry Bernstein and in 1962 they gave birth to a daughter, Margaret Jean, who eventually became a professional musician.

In the spring of 1974, she began teaching at BOCES Cultural Arts Center (now known as Long Island School of the Arts), where she stayed for twenty years. During her time there, she taught many promising dancers who went on to pursue professional careers in dance including Michael Trusnovec, soloist with the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Upon her retirement, Bunty volunteered with a number of organizations including the Garden City nursery school, Hempstead Public Schools and Azalea Blossom, Incorporated where she served on the Board of Directors for several years.

Bunty resided in Garden City on Long Island, New York from August, 1966 until October, 2012 where she moved to Delmar in Upstate, New York. In the last few years of her life, she was active in supporting the budding percussion career of her grandson, Julian Jacobs. She is survived by her daughter, Flutist/songwriter Margaret Jean Bernstein, her grandson, percussionist/drummer Julian Jacobs and nieces and nephews.

May 31, 2017

Azalea Blossom’s SAFE Through the Arts Program

SAFE through the Arts is a bullying prevention program, which utilizes the creative and performing arts in order to empower young children. It is currently geared towards PreK and kindergarten classrooms in urban public schools within New York City’s five boroughs and Upstate New York’s Capital Region. Our priority is to bring the program into schools serving economically challenged and culturally diverse populations. The program is based upon three key components: Self–Affirmation (Self-esteem), Financial literacy (Self-worth and value), and Education of non-violence (Getting along with others). These key components lay the foundation to build empowered human beings who have an understanding of their own unique strengths and talents. Through the integration of the three key components, students learn how they can positively contribute to their communities, accept and embrace differences within themselves and their peers, and communicate compassionately with one another. In addition, students gain exposure to a variety of creative and performing arts, which they can use for self-expression and creative problem-solving.

May 24, 2017

Meet Azalea Blossom’s New Intern!

We would like to welcome and congratulate our newest intern Bianca Cabrera! Bianca graduated from Rutgers University this May 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Over the past several years she has exercised her activist abilities and furthered her education in child psychology at Rutgers. She is an artist, and will be pursuing graduate school for a career in Art Therapy. She is joining the Azalea Blossom team this summer, as an intern and Director of Social Media. Bianca will be coordinating the Azalea Blossom Inc., SAFE Through the Arts, as well as The Bricks in the wall, social media accounts to reach out and inform the world about our work and programs through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She is gaining priceless experience working with our dedicated interns and founder Margaret Bernstein. The work and goals of this organization fuels a passion in herself as well. She is exemplary skilled in writing and computer technology which will be applicable in the use of social media, constructing newsletters, as well as grant writing.This internship will provide her with exciting new opportunities and experiences that she will have access to.

May 10, 2017

Successful Completion of Spring Internships

Azalea Blossom’s interns from SUNY Albany and Hartwick College have successfully completed their spring internships. Natalia Lewitinn, the Assistant Director of Program and Development from Hartwick College, has been working on grant proposals during her internship with Azalea Blossom as well as managing several social media accounts. These skills will be helpful in her future endeavors as she aspires to work in nonprofit organizations. She is looking forward to starting her senior year as an accounting and business major at Hartwick College in the fall. Alyssa Budke, the Director of Marketing for Bricks in the Wall from SUNY Albany, built a fan base for the Bricks in the Wall project. She is looking forward to bringing the skills, which she acquired during her internship at Azalea Blossom to her internship with Victoria Secret’s Pink in the fall. Taj Marable, the Manager of Operations and Human Resources for Azalea Blossom from SUNY Albany, gained valuable first-hand experiences on how an organization is run and the day-to-day operations that are conducted. He is looking forward to pursuing future business in music and other industries in the near future. Azalea Blossom would like to thank these three lovely interns for all of their contributions to our organization and wish them all their best in their future endeavors. http://www.azaleablossom.com/about/team/

News from the SAFE through the Arts program

We are very excited our new student handbooks as well as the progress of our puppet characters, which are currently being manufactured by the Creative Arts Store in Alabama. We look forward to implementing the SAFE through the arts program into one hundred PreK and kindergarten classrooms in New York State public schools within the 2017-18 school year.

Bricks in the Wall Project Update

Bricks in the Wall’s Marketing Director Intern, Alyssa Budke, has made major accomplishments for the project, which was formed in 2007 by director and founder Margaret Bernstein. The Bricks in the Wall project using music and multi media to bring education and healing to victims of domestic violence as well as awareness to the general public. The Bricks in the Wall project can now be found on Twitter, Instagram, SoundCloud, Facebook, and YouTube. Alyssa’s latest project was working on the lyric and song book for the Bricks in the Wall album. Margaret and the Bricks band are currently booking gigs to perform in 2018.

Featured Donor of the Month- Bunty Bernstein

In honor of Mother’s Day this month, the featured donor of the month is Bunty Kelley Bernstein, Margaret’s mother. Bunty is a retired dancer and ballet instructor whose professional career includes years of dancing with the Sadlers Wells (the Royal Ballet) in London, England as well as assisting and performing in many of choreographer Agnes de Milles productions in the United States. Bunty also served on the Dance Faculty of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York and the Long Island High School for the Arts (BOCES Cultural Arts) in Syosset, New York. In addition to being one of Azalea Blossom’s most generous donors over the last several years, Bunty also served on the Board of Directors and as an interim secretary where she helped edit outgoing notices and newsletters in addition to researching prospective grants. We would like to thank Bunty for all of her support and many roles within our organization.

Quote of the Month

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” -Rumi

May 3, 2017

“I Can Be” is an empowering and upbeat children’s song from Songs from SAFE through the arts that embrace diversity. Songs from SAFE through the arts not only stands alone as an inspirational compilation of positive songs for children but is also a part of the SAFE through the arts bullying prevention program. Based upon three key components- Self-Affirmation, Financial Literacy and Education of non-violence, SAFE through the arts utilizes the creative and performing arts to empower young children.

“I Can Be”  fits into the second key component, Financial Literacy, which focuses on children thinking about empowering sustainable future for themselves. Pat Pig from Guyana, South America wishes to be a doctor, a lawyer or a cook. Bobby Bunny in a wheelchair from Buffalo, NY aspires to be a teacher. Tamika from Nigerian decent aspires to be a construction worker. Lucinda from Puerto Rico wants to be a park ranger. Scott whose family is from Jamaica hopes to be a police officer just like his dad. Melinda Mouse comes from Egypt and had her heart set on being a writer.
To listen to the song, please click here.
To buy the song, please click here.
To read more about “Songs from SAFE through the arts,” please click here.

April 26, 2017

Did you know that there’s a way to support Azalea Blossom and the SAFE through the arts program at no cost to yourself? Well, there is! GoodSearch, a search engine just like Google, donates money based on your searches through the site. It also donates based on purchases made through special promotions featured on the site. We encourage everyone to check it out!

April 19, 2017

Welcome to the April 2017 Newsletter!

Thanks for your support!

We have officially reached the end of our fundraising campaign on generosity.com for the manufacturing of the sixteen puppet characters who are an integral part of the SAFE through the Arts program. In addition, our board members, interns, and other volunteers have been busy selling chocolate bunny lollipops and movie discount cards. We would like to thank everyone who helped us with our recent fundraising efforts!

News from the SAFE through the Arts program

Thanks to the generous support, which we have received from our recent fundraisers, the Creative Arts Store has begun the manufacturing of our sixteen puppet characters. We are excited as we anticipate seeing the Word Bird and his friends being brought to life! In addition, former intern Amy Gong has been hard at work on designing the student and teacher handbooks for the SAFE through the arts program. The handbooks are in the final stages and are about to be sent to our partner, Staples, to be printed.

News from Azalea Blossom Interns

Natalia Lewitinn, the Assistant Director of Program and Development, has been hard at work researching grants and promoting the SAFE through the arts program on social media. Alyssa Budke has been hard at work on the Bricks in the Wall project. (Please see below). Taj Marable, the Manager of Operations & Human Resources, has implemented a new database, BatchBook, to be used in the office, represented Azalea Blossom on social media, and has conducted the recruitment of future interns. Read more about Natalia, Alyssa, and Taj at http://www.azaleablossom.com/about/team/

Bricks in the Wall Project Update

The “Bricks in the Wall” Project was formed in March of 2007 by our Director and Founder, Margaret Bernstein, with the aim of bringing awareness and education on the lesser known and publicized aspects of domestic violence to the general public. Alyssa, the Director of Marketing for Bricks in the Wall, has been building fan bases on several social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and SoundCloud. We are in the process reassembling the Bricks Band, which features Margaret Bernstein on vocals, flute, and piano and also includes Sue Taylor on guitar, Iris Ornig on bass, and Marla Bracco on violin. Visit our Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-148448497

Featured Donor of the Month- Bill Glover

Our featured donor of the month is Bill Glover, longtime donor of Azalea Blossom, Incorporated. He is currently the business manager at the Awakening Seed School in Phoenix, Arizona where Margaret worked as an after school teacher when she was a Master’s student at Arizona State University. Bill has a strong background in business and management and has operated his own business for over forty years. He enjoys helping out with projects that make learning fun and exciting for students and teachers. Bill also loves spending time with his four granddaughters and grandson, as well as his two daughters and wife Mary. We are most grateful for Bill’s belief in our mission and his long-term commitment to Azalea Blossom. For further information about Bill and the Awakening Seed School, please visit http://www.awakeningseedschool.org/

Support us through GoodSearch

Did you know that you could support Azalea Blossom and the SAFE through the arts program at no cost? GoodSearch, a search engine just like Google, donates money just from your searches through the site.

Quote of the Month

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi.

March 22, 2017

This week, for Writer Wednesday, we’re going to do a recap of the characters we’ve featured for our special #MeetTheCharacters campaign on the SAFE through the arts Twitter page! In honor of Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, we featured Tamika, who’s parents are from Nigeria. She herself is from South Carolina and loves making southern comfort food with her mom. She is very loving and wants to be a builder when she grows up! We have also featured Word Bird, who is a rapper seagull from the Jersey Shore known for using his kind and polite words.  In honor of International Women’s Day and Azaleation Day, we featured Lucinda who was born in Puerto Rico. She wants everyone to achieve greatness and aspires to be a Park Ranger. Continuing with that theme, we also featured Teacher Beaver, who lives on a farm in Upstate New York, but her family is from Scotland and England. She is important because she helps all children to believe in their unique selves. The most recent character to be featured this week was Frieda Fish! Head over to Twitter to learn more about her and the rest of our very special characters, and head to our Generosity campaign if you’d like to know more about how you can help bring these integral characters to life!

March 15, 2017

This week we were fortunate enough to receive a very generous grant from Stewart’s Shops! Their program, Holiday Match, started over thirty years ago to benefit programs for children under the age of eighteen in areas such as social services, health, education, recreations, and the arts. We have had a long partnership with Stewarts Shops and greatly appreciate their contributions, which have allowed us to implement programs throughout seven counties in the past and have most recently helped support the creation of the new student handbook for preK and kindergarten public school students. We are excited about the new contribution from Stewarts Shops, which we anticipate using towards SAFE through the arts programming in Schenectady City Schools this spring.

March 8, 2017

Happy Azaleation Day!

Falling on the same day as International Women’s Day, March 8th is Azaleation Day, the day on which at Azalea Blossom, Incorporated celebrate our unique selves. We invite you to also celebrate your beautiful uniqueness on this day and every day and fill your day with self-appreciation and love.

Generosity Campaign

Azalea Blossom has just launched a new campaign on Generosity to fundraise for the manufacturing of the sixteen puppet characters who are an integral part of the SAFE through the Arts program. These puppets teach lessons based upon the three key components while embracing diversity and we need your help to bring them to life! Donors of the SAFE through the Arts puppet project will receive a personalized thank you letter and other gifts such as t-shirts, song downloads, CDs, and an invitation to the donor party! Thank you for your part in bringing bullying prevention education into our schools. For more information about the campaign: https://www.generosity.com/education-fundraising/puppets-for-the-safe-through-the-arts-program

News from the SAFE through the Arts program

We are eagerly anticipating bringing the SAFE through the arts program back to PreK and kindergarten classrooms later this spring! Former Azalea Blossom intern Amy Gong has been hard at work on designing the student and teachers handbooks for the program.

Meet Azalea Blossom’s New Interns!

The first day for our new spring interns Natalia Lewitinn, Alyssa Budke, and Taj Marable was Friday, February 10th, 2017. We had a great experience all together in the office with Kristen and Margaret doing a few team-building activities. We discussed our roles as well as laid out some goals for the semester. These efforts will mainly be shown on social media so make sure to follow all of our Twitter and Instagram accounts. Please stay tuned and follow their journey! Read more about Natalia, Alyssa, and Taj and their accomplishments to Azalea Blossom, SAFE through the arts, and Bricks in the Wall http://www.azaleablossom.com/about/team/

Bricks in the Wall Project Update

Our Bricks in the Wall Project has been making great strides to send out our message through several social media platforms! We have now created a YouTube account for Azalea Blossom, where you can find our inspirational music video. We have also created a Facebook page for Azalea Blossom, where Bricks in the Wall posts regularly. On top of those two platforms, we also have two additional specific handles for the project. Find them on Instagram, @BricksintheWallProject, and Twitter @BricksintheWallProject. We are excited to celebrate International Women’s Day and Azaleation Day both on March 8th! We celebrate this day to recognize the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Women are strong, amazing individuals who do not deserve the disrespect of domestic abuse. Bricks in the Wall is looking forward to sending out their message of awareness on a very influential day.

“Songs from SAFE through the Arts” available on CD Baby

Art is a powerful vehicle for social change and music is an especially effective tool in engaging young children in the process of learning. Because of this fact, we have recorded nine original empowering songs, which, along with the puppets skits, are now an integral part of the program. The CD of songs, “Songs from SAFE through the arts” is not only being used as a tool of positive reinforcement by the classroom teacher after the conclusion of the seven-week program but is also being sold to the general public on CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes. All proceeds from the sales of the album directly benefit the SAFE through the arts program. Thanks to Kristen Amrhein for her work overseeing the recording legalities. www.cdbaby.com/cd/azaleablossom

Featured Volunteer of the Month

In honor of International Women’s Day, the featured volunteer of the month is Azalea Blossoms founder, Margaret Jean Bernstein. Ms. Bernstein has spent literally hundreds of volunteer hours in the last few years working on getting arts based bullying prevention education into urban diversely-populated public schools. Initially, Ms. Bernstein established Azalea Blossom, Inc. as the non-profit 501c3 sister organization to her music publishing company, Growing Azalea Music in order to facilitate musical projects aimed at Social Awareness. Ms. Bernstein is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, composer, and flutist internationally known for her Socially Awakened Songs and Uplifting Instrumental compositions in addition to being a dually certified educator in New York State.

A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (BM, flute performance) and Arizona State University (MM, flute performance), Ms. Bernstein’s recording credits include four solo albums released on her Growing Azalea Music record label. She is also the songwriter for all of the songs on the “Songs from SAFE through the arts” CD. Two decades of experience as a classroom music teacher in rural and urban communities in California and New York State coupled with close encounters with domestic violence lead her to create the SAFE through the Arts bullying prevention program in 2007. A voting member of the Recording Academy, she is the founder of the Youth Sahavas, an annual retreat for teenagers held in South Carolina. To read her full bio, please visit www. http://www.azaleablossom.com/about/team/

To read the blog on her adventures, please visit http://www.margaretbernstein.com/blog

Follow us on all of our new Social Media accounts

We have been working very hard to bring everything Azalea Blossom to social media. This had lead to the creation of many new accounts in addition to our old ones. On Twitter, we can be found at @azalea_blossom7, @BricksInTheWall, and @SAFEThroughArts. On Instagram, we can be found at @safethroughthearts and @bricksinthewallproject. We also have a new YouTube channel that we are very proud of! On it, you can find the music video for Bricks in the Wall and the SAFE through the Arts promotional video.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVeIf6ik4brTWhU7FZrp_9w

In addition to these accounts, we are also on SoundCloud! https://soundcloud.com/safethroughthearts

Lastly, we can be found on Facebook, under the names of SAFE through the Arts and Azalea Blossom! Please be sure to “like” and/or follow us on any of these medias if you have an account.

Quote of the Month

“All else may fail, love never fails.” -Meher Baba.

With best wishes and gratitude,
Margaret Jean Bernstein Founder and Program Director
Azalea Blossom, Incorporated/SAFE through the Arts

March 1, 2017

Bricks in the Wall

Our Bricks in the Wall Project has been making great strides to send out our message through several social media platforms! We have now created a YouTube account for Azalea Blossom, where you can find our inspirational music video. We have also created a Facebook page for Azalea Blossom, where Bricks in the Wall posts regularly. On top of those two platforms, we also have two additional specific handles for the project. Find them on Instagram, @BricksintheWallProject, and Twitter @BricksintheWallProject. We are excited to celebrate International Women’s Day and Azaleation Day both on March 8th! We celebrate this day to recognize the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Women are strong, amazing individuals who do not deserve the disrespect of domestic abuse. Bricks in the Wall is looking forward to sending out their message of awareness on a very influential day.

February 24, 2017

Generosity!

This week Azalea Blossom launched a new campaign on Generosity to fundraise for the manufacturing of the sixteen puppet characters who are an integral part of the SAFE through the Arts program. SAFE through the arts is a bullying prevention and empowerment program for Pre-K and kindergarten students in urban public schools throughout New York City and the Capital District. Based on three key components–Self-Affirmation, Financial Literacy, and Education of Nonviolence– the program prevents bullying by strengthening each student’s self-esteem, helping them to recognize their self-worth, and teaching children to be kind and respectful to one another through the use of the arts and puppets. These puppets teach lessons based upon the key components while embracing diversity and we need your help to bring them to life! To learn more about the characters, go here. Donors of the SAFE through the arts puppet project will receive a personalized thank you letter & other various gifts. Thank you for your part in bringing bullying prevention education into our schools. To learn more about the campaign and Generosity, click here.

February 15, 2017

New Interns!

The first day for our new spring interns Natalia Lewitinn, Alyssa Budke, Taj Marable, and Frances was Friday, February 10th, 2017. We had a great experience all together in the office with Kristen and Margaret, all we were missing was Amy, though we did get to FaceTime her! We did a few team-building activities and discussed our roles as well as laid out some goals for the semester. We all want to continue to raise awareness, education, and prevention of domestic violence and child abuse through music, multi-media, and the arts. This means that we will be working very hard this semester to bring the “SAFE Through The Arts” program back into schools as well as working on getting our own puppets. We are also working on a new “Bricks in the Wall” project. These efforts will mainly be shown on social media so make sure to follow all of our Twitter and Instagram accounts. We are very excited and grateful to have the opportunity to work for Azalea Blossom this semester, please stay tuned and follow our journey!

December 2016

Welcome to the 2016 Azalea Blossom Newsletter!

We are excited to share all the news of the wonderful things that have been happening with Azalea Blossom and the SAFE through the arts program. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

The SAFE through the Arts Program Moving Forward

Azalea Blossom has had a successful year as we move forward with bringing the SAFE through the Arts program to a new demographic. Program Director Margaret Bernstein has been working hard at reconstructing the SAFE through the Arts program for the Pre-K and kindergarten population. We are excited to expand our geographic reach this year by bringing our arts-based bullying prevention program to New York City schools where there is a great need in addition to urban public schools in Upstate New York. The new Pre-K program has already made an impact with the children in Schenectady, New York.

The new curriculum for SAFE through the Arts is still based upon three components: Self-Affirmation (Self-esteem), Financial literacy (self-worth and value), and Education of non-violence (getting along with others). Children participate in dramatic role play, movement, drumming, singing and drawing. In addition, puppet skits featuring sixteen unique puppet characters have been incorporated into the newly revamped curriculum. Students who have participated in SAFE through the Arts are more aware of how to appropriately express their emotions towards others. They are also more likely to integrate the values of self-love, cooperation, accepting others who are different and treating one another with respect and compassion. These are all important skills, which children when taught at a young age, will carry with them into adulthood.

Meet the Characters

Thanks to Margaret Bernstein’s vision and the artistic direction of Amy Gong, we now have images of the sixteen distinct puppet characters. The characters represent the diverse demographics of the public schools of New York City and the Capital District. The SAFE through the Arts characters includes the “Word Bird”, a rapper seagull from the Jersey shore who teaches children how to use their kind and polite words. Teacher Beaver is the benevolent teacher who demonstrates compassion and equality. Charlie Chipmunk and Friendly Frog together teach children how to use their “Happy Hands and Friendly Feet” in appropriate ways. Sally Spider and Pat Pig model how we can be friends and get along in spite of our differences. Booby Bunny, who is confined to a wheel chair, is a role model for differently-abled children. Bully Bear makes a transition to “Backpack Bear” upon learning how to believe in himself and treat others with kindness and respect.

“Songs from SAFE through the Arts” available on iTunes

Art is a powerful vehicle for social change and music is an especially effective tool in engaging young children in the process of learning. Because of this fact, we have recorded nine original empowering songs, which, along with the puppets skits, are now an integral part of the program. The CD of songs, “Songs from SAFE through the arts” is not only being used as a tool of positive reinforcement by the classroom teacher after the conclusion of the seven-week program but is also being sold to the general public on CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes. All proceeds from the sales of the album directly benefit the SAFE through the arts program. Thanks to Kristen Amrehein for her work overseeing the recording legalities. www.cdbaby.com/cd/azaleablossom

Azalea Blossom’s New Board of Directors

Vivian Roston has assumed the role of President of the Board of Directors while previous board member Ariana Williams has taken on the role of vice-president. Chelsea Cross, a long-time volunteer who most recently utilized her grant writing skills as a part of Oberlin College’s senior grant-writing class, is a new addition to the Board along with another former intern, Natalie Adorno, who has accepted the position of Treasurer. Learn more about the members of the Board at www.AzaleaBlossom.com/about/board.

Our Blossoming Internship Program

Azalea Blossom’s internship program thrived this past year as interns from four accredited Colleges and Universities – Hartwick College, SUNY Albany, Rutgers University and Hunter College graced our office. Our interns assumed roles in Art Direction, Music Supervision, Business Administration and Social Media Marketing Management. Read about Kristen, Emilee, Amy and Faith and their accomplishments to Azalea Blossom and the SAFE through the arts program. www.AzaleaBlossom.com/about/team

Azalea Blossom’s Change of Legal Status

Another exciting event in the last year has been the change of legal status from a private foundation to a public charity. The new change of legal status will grant us additional funding opportunities.

New Website and Logo

Thanks to the graphic art and web design work of Michele Friedman and Susan Becker, we now have a new look to the Azalea Blossom website and logo! In addition, we have a new logo for SAFE through the arts. We anticipate our new SAFE through the arts website being fully operative by early 2017.

Follow us on Social Media

Thanks to Faith Ahmed, who not only sang the roles of Melinda Mouse and Tamika on Songs from SAFE through the arts but also volunteered as our media marketing intern this summer, SAFE through the arts has its own Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts! If you use these social media platforms, please be sure to follow and “like” us. You will be happily surprised with the “Meet the Characters” series, which Emilee Namer, our current Program and Development Assistant, has created.

Thanks for your Generous Support

Due to the extreme upheaval and chaos in our world and country at present, there has never been a greater need for bullying prevention education and the arts in our schools. Students from all backgrounds and cultures need to build their self-confidence as well as to learn tools to help them cope and thrive in an increasingly controversial society. However, we cannot do this without your support! Your tax exempt donation will help us to reach our financial goal of raising $77,000 by December 31st, which will put SAFE through the arts into thirty-five public classrooms this spring. Contributions can be made through our secure site at www.azaleablossom.com/support/donate or mailed to AZALEA BLOSSOM, INC., POB 21777, BROOKLYN, NY, 11202.
We greatly appreciate your generosity.

With best wishes and gratitude,
Margaret Jean Bernstein Founder and Program Director
Azalea Blossom, Incorporated/SAFE through the Arts

 

 

Nov. 11, 2016

Happy Friday, everyone. In light of recent events, the people of Azalea Blossom, Inc. want to shed happiness on the current situation. There has been a lot of hate speeches going around, dragging a lot of communities down. But we mustn’t let this keep happening. Every single person needs to stand strong and spread positive thoughts over demeaning words. We are all worthy of love despite what people may have been saying. We must keep in mind that there are people who want to help other out and not tear them down. Seek them out. Keep them close. Make sure you are there for others just as much as you want someone to be there for you. You are worthy. You are loved. Remember that.

 

Oct. 29 2016

As many may know, October is #BullyingPreventionMonth! This is a very important time for us here at Azalea Blossom Incorporated because as you all may know, we are striving to prevent bullying through the use of creative and performing arts. Our songs have been created to empower young children. Our program is built upon three key components: Self-Affirmation (building self-esteem), Financial literacy (creating self-worth), and Education of non-violence (learning how to be kind and get along with others). These songs have been created by founder and director Margaret Bernstein. However, even as this month comes to a close, we still want to push forward to make every month Bullying Prevention Month. A piece of exciting news is that our CD Songs from SAFE Through the Arts is currently being considered for a nomination in the children’s music category for the 59th grammy awards.

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Sept. 8, 2016

Azalea Blossom is just wrapping up a very successful season of summer internship programs! Our three interns- Amy Gong from Rutgers University, Faith Ahmed from Hunter College and Kristen Amrheim from Hartwick College have been industrious in moving the SAFE through the arts program forward. We are happy to announce that our sixteen characters from the SAFE through the arts featured puppet shows have new images, thanks to the creative genius of Amy, who has been interning as the Art Director for Azalea Blossom and will continue on as an independent contractor while she continues to work on the SAFE through the arts student handbook. Meanwhile, Faith, our manager of media and marketing, has been hard at work on rebuilding all of our social media sites including tour witter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. Kristen, the Director of music licensing and publishing from our sister organization, Growing Azalea Music, has been meticulously making sure that metadata, copy right, and other legalities are all in order where the music of the SAFE through the arts program is concerned.

Our other big news is that Songs from SAFE through the arts, a compilation of nine original songs, which Azalea Blossom’s Founder and Program Director, Margaret Jean Bernstein, wrote for the program, is currently being pressed at Disc Makers and has been submitted for a Grammy nomination consideration!  The songs, which feature the vocals of Pyeng Threadgill, Will Stone, Faith Ahmed and Nikolai Moderbacher, were produced and recorded by Barb Morrision and Jonathan Jetter at Right Angle Studios in New York City. The songs, all based upon the three key components of the SAFE through the arts program- Self-Affirmation, Financial literacy, and Education of non-violence, are aligned with the program’s mission to empower and prevent bullying beginning with Prekindergarten and kindergarten students.

The recording, which will be available both as a CD as well as a digital recording, will have its public release on September 20th. All proceeds from Songs from SAFE through the arts will benefit the SAFE through the arts program.

Feb 10, 2015

Imagine a world with no violence. I am not talking about a world without guns but rather a world in which children can go to school every day without the threat of being bullied; A world in which women can live peacefully without being verbally, emotionally or physically battered; and a world in which men are permitted to express their feelings honestly and openly in ways, which build themselves and others. This is the world, which I envision.

For over ten years, I have been imagining a world in which youth of all ages feel empowered knowing that they each have unique gifts and talents that they are able to share with the world. I have been imagining a world in which all emerging adults have the skills and knowledge to take care of themselves financially and emotionally. I imagine a world in which people are able to communicate to one another to express their needs and feelings kindly and compassionately in a way that does not put blame or threat upon others.

In 2007, I founded Azalea Blossom as a not for profit 501c3 organization for the purpose of raising awareness, educating and preventing domestic violence and child abuse through the use of the creative and performing Arts. The “Bricks int he Wall” project, which brought awareness and education of domestic violence in its many forms came to fruition in March of that year when we celebrated the release of my “Bricks in the Wall” music video and CD with a series of concerts throughout New York State with my band. Women from nearby shelters and the general public attended the concerts while youth from community service groups made resource information available to all concert attendees.

After two years of working on and tweaking the curriculum, I launched my first SAFE through the Arts programs in public middle schools throughout Upstate New York during the spring of 2009. After a weeklong residency of teaching the Arts-based curriculum based upon the three components of the program (Self-Affirmation, Financial literacy and Education of non-violence), the students at each school created their own projects based on the components of the program using one of the Art forms (dance, theater, music, visual arts, film etc). In addition, my band joined me for a final assembly concert at the end of each SAFE through the Arts program in which chorus students joined the band for our final song, “Believe”, a song, which I wrote to remind youth to always believe in themselves and their abilities.

Although Azalea Blossom has basically been on hiatus during the last year and a half, we are ready to rock and roll forward with new ideas and new plans, which includes the re-launching of the SAFE through the Arts program into kindergarten classes. The changes, which we have witnessed in the last two years, has helped us to realize the growing urgent need for all youth to receive empowerment and violence prevention education at an early age. Our Arts based approach is the perfect vehicle for students of all ages to assimilate the skills and tools required for empowering themselves. In addition, our newly revised Bricks in the Wall Shelter Project will bring education, healing, and music into women’s shelters throughout the NorthEast. 

In order to do all of this, we need your help. We need volunteers including dedicated Board Members who can devote time, energy and professional expertise to our mission. In addition, fiscal contributions of any size are welcome and will be used towards the materials and personnel needed to run our programs. We keep an incredibly low overhead (our only expense right now is our PO box!) so that we can put almost 100% of the money we receive into our programming. There is no better time than Domestic Violence Awareness month to make a contribution- whether it be a gift of time, talent or treasure to Azalea Blossom or not for profit organization helping to make the world a better, more peaceful place through the education, awareness of prevention of violence. And if you or someone you know is undergoing an abusive relationship-whether or not there is any physical violence- please be sure to reach out and contact one of the hotline numbers mentioned on the Azalea Blossom website for help and support.

We hope that you are enjoying a happy, healthy and vibrant New Year! Thank you for doing your part, even in a small way, to help to make the world a peaceful, safer and more equitable place for others.

With love, gratitude and best wishes always,

Margaret xo