If you have a talented young singer, dancer, actor or musician in your life that would like to audition to perform for those who can't afford lessons in the arts...or if you know of a child/teen who can't afford lessons in the arts, check out this program!

The AOK Performance Group is an audition-only 'kids helping kids' group, ages 7 - 22, who showcase their performing arts talents in service of a special mission:

Members of this volunteer group are invited to attend and perform at local events throughout the year. In doing so, these performers raise awareness for the Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation's mission, which is to give ongoing performing arts lessons to kids with financial barriers in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

This is an opportunity for children, teens, and young adults to take part in going community service performances while doing something they love and enjoy.  And, in doing so, these performers help to fundraise for their peers so that they can have the same opportunities.

The Applaud Our Kids Foundation supports kids in our area (that meet the financial needs requirements) by giving them ongoing lessons in dance, acting, instrumental music, and vocal instruction. The foundation pays for 100% of the lessons. Children between the ages of 7 and 18 will get lessons for an entire school year and/or a summer program at a local  performing arts studio close to their home.

This program has just come to Monmouth County, having already been successfully established in Ocean County. And, as the organization has already seen, many of the children who apply for scholarships are dealing with challenges within their home or school life due to a multitude of circumstances. The ongoing connection with the performing arts provides a constant that these children are in need of, helps to increase their self-esteem, and provides them a sense of belonging.

The foundation is excited to be working with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth County, Boys & Girls Club, LunchBreak, CCYC and others that can help identify children that meet the financial need requirements.

The Zzak G.  Applaud  Our Kids Foundation was founded in honor of Zzak G., who, at a young age, was unable to take vocal lessons. Singing and performing was his passion. When he finally took his first lesson in his mid-thirties, he was told that he was an operatic tenor. He was still unable to take lessons regularly due to having a family and other priorities. When he finally did start taking lessons more steadily, he was in his fifties. At the age of 68 he was diagnosed with ALS and passed away just 6 months later. His biggest regret that he shared with his daughters who founded the organization was that he was unable to do what he loved. It gave him such great joy and he wished he was  able to experience that more.

For more info about this non-profit, CLICK HERE or contact Jodi Grinwald: Jodi@applaudourkids.org.