In the summer of 2008, 14-year-old Nigel Ash founded Kid Nation Inc., a non-profit created for kids by kids working to motivate youth locally and around the globe. In the more than two years since Kid Nation got its start, the organization has extended its reach to youth in countries such as Japan and Canada.
|NIGEL ASH, creator of Kid Nation.
“We are influenced by the world around us and our hope is to reach other kids and let them know that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can succeed and you can capture your dreams—whatever they may be,” Ash said.
The organization’s main focus is the Honor Roll Tour, a project that rewards honor roll students with a free concert by Kid Nation’s hip-hop group, the UNDALRDS. The group, made up of honor roll students between the ages of 5 and 16, performs a show comprised of dance, spoken word, and original music with an inspirational message.
“Every school we’ve gone to has praised us after the show. What we want to do is make this a consistent effort. We’re really trying to get the schools behind us,” said Lee Davis, manager of the Kid Nation Foundation Honor Roll Tour. “There’s really nothing else going on that’s rewarding the kids. There are few kids who rap with a positive message.”
Schools wishing to participate in the program can purchase packages that include an hour-long concert, promotional DVD, Honor Roll CD, and membership in the Honor Roll Club. The club grants students with a reward for each grading period they maintain honor roll or high honor roll status.
“The goal is basically to motivate kids who are getting good grades and those who aren’t getting good grades to motivate them to get up. We want to reward kids who are doing good instead of only focusing on those who aren’t,” Davis said. “There’s a whole bunch of different rewards for getting your grades up.”
The groups other project have included the Stop the Violence Tour, Haiti relief shows, and the Playground Tour that hosted free performances at local playgrounds and community centers.
The organization’s primary leadership comes from youth featured in the music group the UNDALRDS whose members are brothers. The groups’ leader Big E is the president of the Honor Tour and solo artist DIGI Shotgun is president of the Stop the Violence Tour.
“They’re in it to keep inspiring kids because they know that there isn’t much to motivate them. They love what they do,” Davis said. “Anything we decided to do is usually up to the kids. Whatever they feel like needs to be implemented and changed, they do that. It’s very hands on for them. It’s one of the few things I’ve seen where the kids are the ones making the decision.”
In the future Kid Nation plans to become involved in writing and producing short films as well as publishing books. They are interested in collaborating with other youth groups locally and around the country.