Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Nonprofit Performing Arts Organization Gives Local Children Platform to Share Their Talents

I Am Me Initiative Foundation, founded in 2019 by Executive Director Trent Wynne, promotes music education through arts programs for children of all ages. (Courtesy of Trent Wynne)

WILLIAMSBURG — Trent Wynne believes that every child should be given the chance to showcase their musical talents.

With this mission in mind, Wynne founded the I Am Me Initiative Foundation in 2019, as a nonprofit organization that promotes music education through performing arts programs for children of all ages in the Greater Williamsburg area, along with other local communities.

Wynne, a Newport News resident and father of a 10-year-old daughter, has been involved with music from a young age.

“Music has always been a passion for me, so it was very easy for me to kind of share my experiences and put together a program,” he said.

The idea for the foundation stemmed from a music program that Wynne started in 2016 called “Music in Me,” which provided various music lessons for children, dependent upon age and ability.

Wynne, along with local piano teacher Lisa Reid-Williamson, who now sits on the foundation’s board, ran the music program for children ages 3 to 17 years old.

The program featured introductory-level piano lessons as well as classes for those with previous music training.

“They were learning a lot of new things, but they didn’t have a platform to be able to share with the community all of the things that they learned or all of their different talents,” Wynne said.

In 2019, Wynne held an African American History Month program at the Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL) theatre to give some of his students an opportunity to showcase their talents, which included singing and playing the piano.

He was also able to work with other individuals who were not participating in his program due to financial restrictions or other barriers.

“It was one of those instances that touched me, and I was like ‘I really wish I could let everyone participate in the program,'” Wynne said.

Support and contributions from the community helps to fund the I Am Me Initiative Foundation’s mission. Community members can also sponsor a specific participant.

I Am Me Initiative Foundation was named after a motivational saying that Wynne has given to his daughter since she was little.

“I’d be like, ‘You’re you. Always be yourself.’ It just stuck,” he said. “She’s now 10 years old, and I still tell her that today. When you’re a child, the most important thing you need to know is to aways be yourself. So, I always reassure all of the children that when you’re here, regardless of what you’re going through, just always be yourself and you’ll find the answers that you need.”

On Saturday, May 14, local children ages five to 17 will take the stage at the WRL Theatre, 515 Scotland St, in a production of Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.”

Children in the community auditioned for roles in the show, which was initially planned for 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Virtual rehearsals began in the fall, with in-person rehearsals beginning in April.

“They’re getting excited because they’re getting close to it,” Wynne said about the students. “I really commend parents for keeping their children in this program, and I also commend the children for doing a lot of rehearsing on their own. I definitely think it’s going to be rewarding.”

Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” production will take place on Saturday, May 14 at 2 p.m. at the WRL Theatre.

For ticket and sponsorship information, visit here.

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