February 24, 2017
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
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!
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.
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.
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,