HeadCount’s Participation Row at Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival shifted the focus from music to activism in a fun and engaging way. They had booths with games & trivia that could help you get stamps toward free chocolate and a signed guitar by supporting and finding out more about the causes that the Okeechobee community cares about.
Continue reading to see our interviews and a short summary about each organization we talked to.
Photo by Lauren Decanio for Insomniac Events
Okeechobee Music Festival’s Participation Row
We visited all of the booths at Participation Row and interviewed key people who volunteer their time to help others in the community. Sponsors for the event included White Claw, Gopuff, and ENO, among others.
Martha’s House provides a wide range of supportive services for victims of domestic violence in Okeechobee, Florida. They provide 24-hour crisis intervention, transportation, food, clothing, and access to donated items. Additionally, they seek to help women with safety planning, court advocacy, Orders for Protection or Harassment Order assistance, referrals to area agencies, support & information groups, and individual support/advocacy.
For their interactive booth, they had a large canvas that represented a powerful message. When I arrived, the canvas had already been adorned with handprints in various colors. Each paint color illustrated the participant’s feelings about growing up in their households. Your color could have aligned with words including accepted, rejected, and encouraged. Over time, the canvas painted a telling picture of how different and similar our perspectives of childhood were.
Watch our brief interview about the organization and the activity below.
Healthy Start is a free home visiting program. It provides care coordination and education to pregnant women and families with children under three years old. The foundation’s goal is to lower risk factors associated with preterm birth, low birth weight, infant mortality, and poor developmental outcomes.
For their booth at Okeechobee Music Festival, they also had canvases, but this time they had pre-drawn pictures depicting pregnancy. In order for participants to get a stamp, they would just need to add color to a painting. Each canvas became a collaborative art piece where some simply colored in a couple of lines and others took hours out of their day to add to them. It was beautiful to see how much time and love people put into the pictures of pregnant women with children.
To learn more about the program, watch our interview below or go to their website here.
Treasure Coast Food Bank
Founded over 34 years ago, Treasure Coast Food Bank remains the largest hunger-relief organization on Florida’s Treasure Coast. Additionally, it is the only Food Bank in Indian River, Martin, St. Lucie, and Okeechobee counties. Certainly, the people involved with this organization work tirelessly to help families and individuals in need by providing them with nutritious food, hope, and dignity. Furthermore, they raise awareness on the issues of hunger in America with dialogue to encourage more community involvement with.
At first glance, you notice a bunch of decorated plates stapled to the wall. At further inspection, you’ll realize it’s decorated with images and words depicting people’s thoughts on hunger. They share the plates with local representatives as a voice for the community to show them how much people care about these issues.
To learn more about the Treasure Coast Food Bank from the Chief Impact Officer, watch our interview below.
End Hunger Backpack Program
Although kids can be fed while they’re at school through the school lunch program, they may not be guaranteed food on the weekends or over breaks. As a result, they could come back to school hungry, leading to problems doing school work, which can spiral into bigger problems in the future. Food backpacks include healthy, easy-to-prepare food for kid-friendly meals.
Feeding America has a BackPack food program that offers families free groceries for weekends and school breaks. By partnering with schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and community centers, they can successfully distribute backpacks to kids. This booth was led by the End The Hunger NHS program at a high school in Okeechobee.
At this booth, you have the option to play two games: a ball toss and a can stack. The baskets for the ball toss represents the five schools that the program delivers to while the can stack represents the time it takes to make a bag for the kids.
To hear from volunteers at the festival, watch the video below.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization has been changing lives for more than 100 years. They believe that with mentorship, a child may have a better ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer-supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”). In other words, children ages 4 through 18 in communities across the country receive more opportunities due to the existence of the BBBS programs.
At their booth, you could play positivity Jenga, prompting you with a positive affirmation or action when you successfully select a piece from the tower. The goal of the activity is to improve the lives of concertgoers through positivity and give them goals to achieve while at OMF.
Learn more about their organization by watching our on-site interview.