More than 100 young artists will perform in “Kids for Kids at The Playhouse San Antonio on Saturday. The performance features 12 children’s groups from across the city, including a children’s gospel choir, theatre troupes, and dance studios. The variety-style show was created to benefit immigrant children who have come to the United States without their parents.

All proceeds from the event will go to St. PJ’s Children’s Home and RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services), two nonprofit organizations that serve unaccompanied minors.

During the summer, tens of thousands of children came to the U.S, many of them fleeing violence in Central America. Clinical psychologist Tova Rubin and community activist Melinda Tucker are partnering with The Playhouse San Antonio to produce an artistic aid event. Together, the producers emphasize that children are not a political issue and that “Kids for Kids” does not make a political statement about immigration. Instead, the production exists to cultivate compassion for kids who live in danger and uncertainty and without family.

The Renaissance Guild. Courtesy photo.
The Renaissance Guild will be performing in “Kids for Kids.” Courtesy photo.

The “Kids for Kids” show centers on themes of “unity, caring for each other, and feelings of brotherhood and sisterhood,’ ” Rubin said. A range of cultures and art forms will be represented in performances by the S.A.N.J. Bhaugra Sikh Dance Group, the Mariachi Group of Irving Arts Center, the Renaissance Guild: San Antonio’ Premiere Black Theatre Company, and the Inishfree School of Irish Dancing Booster Club.

The middle school mariachi group will perform a song called “Amigo.” Students in The Playhouse San Antonio Conservatory will perform “We Go Together” from “Grease.”

The show provides a unique opportunity for the San Antonio arts community to come together. Until now, performers have been rehearsing separately. Performers will come together for final rehearsals Wednesday through Friday. Most of the young artists have not performed together until now. The variety style of the show gives performers the opportunity to see their peers working in a range of artistic styles.

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RAICES provides pro-bono emergency civil and legal aide to the children. Executive Director Jonathan Ryan said RAICES provided confidential legal consults to 2,200 children over six weeks this summer. RAICES determines whether children are eligible for asylum or for protection from trafficking under current immigration law. RAICES lawyers also provide a sense of constancy and support as the children travel through the legal system.

St. PJs Children’s Home provides safe housing and a nurturing environment for children separated from their parents. The organization provides dedicated counseling to the children. A college student who benefitted from St. PJs services will introduce the benefit performance on Saturday.

The budgets of RAICES and St. PJs have been stressed as the number of immigrant children here has multiplied. Kids for Kids will help RAICES and St. PJ’s provide resources that help unaccompanied minors transition to life in new communities. Donations can be made through this crowdfunding link.

Tucker says that Kids for Kids gives young performers a chance to apply their “talents toward raising money for projects bigger than themselves.” To produce the show, Rubin spoke with every performance group about the hardships that kids in other countries experience. She emphasized the performer’s abilities to take actions that can help their peers feel more safe.

S.A.N.J. Bhaugra Sikh Dance Group will perform during "Kids for Kids." Courtesy photo.
S.A.N.J. Bhaugra Sikh Dance Group will perform during “Kids for Kids.” Courtesy photo.

Tucker and Rubin said young performers in the benefit can connect the pleasurable aspects of entertaining to a larger purpose that has meaning for the entire community. Cirilo Campus, of the student mariachi group, said he sees the show as “an opportunity for him to feel appreciative.”

This fits the mission of Playhouse San Antonio. The local theatre company participates in various initiatives that aim to strengthen the San Antonio community. Currently, Thanksgiving 365 helps raise money and awareness for Inner City Development. The Playhouse’s Senior Theatre Program helps Senior Citizens share their stories through the art of live theatre.

Jonathan Ryan said notes  it will be important for RAICES lawyers to talk to the unaccompanied minors about the Kids for Kids production so they understand “there are people out there—their peers—who welcome them and approach them with open hearts. That knowledge alone is important.”

Rubin said anyone who attends the one-hour performance Saturday will be “thoroughly entertained by talented children.” At the same time, audience members will be supporting the work of St. PJ’s Children’s Home and RAICES.

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Erin Hood

Erin Hood has recently relocated to San Antonio after a decade of teaching, writing, and making art in the Midwest. She has a Ph.D. in arts and humanities, and is transitioning into non-profit work. In...