Shelby's Students Involved in Community Change program are rapping about positive things in their lives in order to send a message — Take the high road.
Andre Ross, Melik Gooden, Ketravion Davis, Stefan Williams, students of Broad Street High School, and Korderick Davis, a student of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, worked with leaders of SICC to learn more about the Affordable Care Act as well as it's importance.
A music video was made and supported by the Mississippi Center for Justice.
Meigan Thompson, formerly of the Delta office for the center, focuses on educating people on the Affordable Care Act and particularly young people.
"Kids can benefit the most," said Thompson, who began working with a group of teens in Shelby in 2012 in order to educate them on the Act and health insurance.
Every Tuesday the group had lessons in health care and then Thompson suggested they create a song.
All of the youth are musically inclined — Gooden and Williams are in the band at Broad Street High School, while Ross and others have recorded at the Delta Music Institute.
It was through a teacher at Shelby Middle School that they first learned about producing their own music.
David Rhoades began Peer Power, a group for middle school students, which then inspired SICC for high school students.
"He started a hip hop club on Thursdays where aspiring artists such as myself, Melik, and Ketravion, started producing our own tracks. He taught us how to make our own music," said Ross.
"We used examples from our own environment. We may be young, but we've been through some stuff," said Williams.
"We went through a lot of songs. Some had too much bass and some were too poppy. We finally got it right and it was approved by the Mississippi Center for Justice," said Ross.
The students worked together to produce the eight bars needed to complete their own sections of the song.
"We helped each other with what we should sing or how we should sing it," said Williams.
Despite having their work critiqued over and over, the guys said there were no hard feelings when they criticized one another's work.
"We were all raised around each other and we are pretty much a family, like a cohesive unit. Constructive criticism wasn't a big thing for us," said Ross.
Each youth wrote their own part, which had to be eight bars.
Ross wrote about a friend of his, Nikolkies, who plays football and takes care of his family, but doesn't have health insurance. Because Ross was out of town when the video was shot, Davis stepped in and lip-synced his section.
"I chose the laundry mat because that's usually a hang out for some people," said Ross.
Ross said he chose his friend because of the struggles he faces on a daily basis.
"In combination with him trying to work on himself and better him, he has to watch out for his little brother and sister and make sure that they aren't in the streets to get caught in any kind of crossfire," said Ross.
Williams chose to do his scene in a local church, where he is singing while on his knees praying to God.
"My part was dedicated to my father. My father passed when I was younger. Most of my verse was about him so I chose the church because he was gone and so I was talking to God," said Williams.
Williams sings, "Right now I'm young so I don't have to pay, but when I turn 18 please help me ACA."
Gooden chose to stand on a bridge and sing about his cousin with asthma. He mentioned seeing her have asthma attacks was a very scary thing and he is glad that his aunt now gets health insurance through her current employer.
"My cousin has asthma and for a while my aunt didn't have healthcare. She couldn't get her medicine. I really hate, as a person who loves his family, hate to see them in pain," said Gooden.
Gooden sang, "How can you paint a picture if you don't pick up the brush?"
Davis chose to do his eight bars about a friend of his who runs track. He discussed how different her life would be if she didn't have health insurance to cover her when she got injured.
"My scene was at the football field with Alexis Greyer. She's a young track star and runs track for Broad Street. She frequently gets injured in her ankles and stuff would be real rough for her if she didn’t have health care," said Davis.
Greyer is featured in the scene discussing how her life would be different without healthcare while Davis sings, "Life is your track just go on and run with it."
The chorus sung by Ross says, "I believe that you and I, I believe that you and me, can achieve," while the four singers hold signs saying, "We can achieve a healthy future!"
The group is now working on creating an entire album with songs that are inspiring and full of positivity.
The video is titled "Students Involved in Community Change - ACA Achieve song" and can be found on Youtube.com