Arts and music education programs being cut is a common problem affecting many public school districts across the United States.
Many popular musicians have recognized this, including Alice Cooper, who has stepped up in a big way through his Solid Rock charity and provided an incredible place for Phoenix-area teens to go to further their arts and music education.
Opened in May 2012, The Rock Teen Center offers a variety of music, dance, art and multi-media courses to upwards of 100 teens every Monday through Friday. From beginners dance technique to recording/engineering classes to music theory, all of these programs and more are available at The Rock Teen Center, and all of them are free.
Cooper helps fund The Rock Teen Center through a variety of events throughout the year, including his annual Rock & Roll Golf Classic that’s been taking place for over two decades. The Rock & Roll Golf Classic attracts some of the biggest names in entertainment and from the PGA.
“We believe in the youth. We believe that you believe in the youth,” Cooper said in a recent video (below) about The Rock Teen Center. “You want to see these kids flower and blossom and become great, great, great people. The only way to do that is to support them. The only way to do that is to encourage them. The only way to do that is to come down and watch them play, watch them work, watch them get better. And then, what do you get? You get a great big garden of flowers, and they’re all talented, and they’re all beautiful, and they’re all great.”
More important than furthering education, The Rock Teen Center provides a true safe space for teens to go that adheres to a code of conduct where bullying isn’t tolerated and everyone from every possible walk of life is welcome. The Rock Teen Center is changing, and even saving, lives. Lorelei Shirey is a teen who takes classes at The Rock Teen Center. She and her mother, Michaelyn, recently spoke about the impact the center has had on Lorelei, who was experiencing a lot of bullying at school, and it was affecting her mental well-being.
“Every teenager is at risk of anything, because they are a teenager and because they are not understood,” said Michaelyn. “And even those of us who are trying to understand don’t understand – we just remember. I remember what it was like to be a teenager, but I don’t understand what it’s like for her to be a teenager. And The Rock [Teen Center] has given something that I can’t make. I can’t create that. I honestly can say that if it wasn’t for the things The Rock was giving her, I don’t think she’d be here.”
Lorelei agreed with her mother about just how life-changing The Rock Teen Center has been to here and said, “The Rock helped me and made me a lot better. Even my teachers and everybody else says I’m happier and more energetic. I just love it here.”
To donate to and learn more about The Rock Teen Center, go to AliceCooperSolidRock.com.
Erica Banas is rock/classic rock news blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.