Kikki Challenge Moves & Healthy Messages from Kids across the County (video)

Kikki Challenge Moves & Healthy Messages from Kids across the County (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 24, 2018)

Pontiac, Lake Orion, Southfield, Ferndale, MI- Groups in four Oakland County communities have taken the “Kiki Challenge” to a new level – harnessing the power of this social media trend to spread messages of positive mental health.

The Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities include nineteen community prevention coalitions serving fifty-five communities with a focus on behavioral health. This includes promoting positive activities like sports, music and community involvement as well as addressing issues of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

To showcase this work in a fun, memorable way, the ACHC teamed up with the Clarence E. Phillips Ascend Foundation to create a short video.

Through the video are shots of kids from Pontiac, Lake Orion, Southfield and Ferndale dancing and playing the song “In My Feelings” by Drake. The famous line “Kiki, do you love me?” inspired the Kiki Challenge as people worldwide have been mastering the dance moves and making their own videos.

But with the teens in this video there is an additional message.

“Some people vape, smoke pot or drink alcohol when they get in their feelings.  It may feel good for a while, but it only makes the situation worse,” said Ferndale High Schooler Keelen Lucas in his moment of the

video, tying together the famous song and quintessential challenge

that young people and adults face in life. How do people process their feelings in a healthy way?

Some answers are in the video itself.

“We’ve got violins, a ballet team, a hip hop version of ballroom dancing, football players, marching bands,” said Ascend Foundation President Kaino Phillips who produced and directed the short along with Associate Producer Minoou Jones and Cinematographer A’Sante Lucas of Effigy Media Arts Company.  “We’ve got all these kids from different communities and backgrounds, but in the end they’re all facing the same kinds of things. Different cities may have different drugs depending on social economic status, but it’s the same pressure they all feel.”

The Ascend Foundation recently joined the ACHC, but had already been running a program called the Truth Coalition where teens pledge to be drug free and encourage others to be as well.

Brian Bucks lives in Pontiac and is a linebacker for West Bloomfield High’s football team.  “There’s a lot of vaping at my school.  I play football so I don’t vape because I know the stuff that’s in there and I don’t want to hurt my body,” Bucks said in an interview about the video.

When asked why he decided to join the Truth Coalition he said, “I just thought it was a good cause, something I wanted to be a part of.”  He and others in the group “do community service around Pontiac and push the ‘no drugs’ message.”

For Bucks, playing football is a better pastime than getting high.  “I like the sport, and I like the brotherhood aspect of it. It keeps me in good shape,” he said.

Among the groups that participated in the video were Greater Urban Community Coalition Initiative (GUCCI) in Southfield, Oakland Community Health Network, Ferndale High School, Levey Middle School in Southfield, My Dance Studio in Keego Harbor, and Orion Oxford Dance Arts.  Linton “LJ” Robinson also joined in the Kiki Challenge, playing on his violin. The entire project took about three weeks to film, and involved over 100 kids and teens.

And it’s wasn’t all just fun. One by one teens in the video shared the challenges they face. Substance abuse, non-violence, drugs, academic achievement, anti-bullying, and mental health were all included.

“These kids are leading the way on the front line against drugs and peer pressure,” Phillips said. “We have a mentoring group in place, and those kids go out in the schools, at events, to reach young people where they’re at.”  He said the video was a great experience for them, and he looks forward to bringing students from the various communities together to meet and get to know their co-stars. And it is an experience that he and his crew will remember as well.

“These kids got excited. Boy did they gravitate to it,” Phillips said. “And they worked their butts off to make it happen. They went outside their norms and comfort levels, and learned the moves, and got on camera, and they loved every minute of it.”

Check out the video below, and learn more about the ACHC at http://achcmi.org/about-us/.

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