When Jett Lionel entered the Largo Library, a place known for its solitude, he was struck by some inexplicable pounding. The 6-year-old dashed down the corridor to investigate the ruckus. He discovered the source of the noise inside the Jenkins Room. Steve Turner, owner of Giving Tree Music, was leading 50 children through a bongo drum circle.
Turner winked at Jett as the youngster grabbed a spare drum.
"Raise it up. Tap faster," Turner hollered.
The youth followed his direction with rapid pounding.
"Hit it softer. Remember, the drums make us one," Turner said.
On Saturday afternoon, the Largo Library rattled and shook during Kidstock: Let's Band Together. The event, coordinated through the children's department, aimed to educate the little tykes on volunteerism and world peace through music and interaction.
Along with Turner, who believes drum circles "can create unified communities," the Battersby Duo performed comical skits and songs focusing on peace.
A craft area was set up for children to create greeting cards for the military as well as jewelry with peace charms and beads. Library staff members handed out reading lists, including stories on community service. Kids were encouraged to bring Webkinz for a collection through Operation Gratitude. The organization has U.S. soldiers handing out stuffed animals to Iraqi children.
For the uninitiated, Webkinz are plush stuffed animals that each come with a unique secret code. With it, you enter Webkinz World online, where you care for your virtual pet, answer trivia questions and more, according to the Webkinz Web site.
"We wanted to do this because kids like to feel connected when it comes to volunteerism. They like to be a part of change in their community," said Mercedes Bleakler, youth services manager.
Marge Graham, a Title I teacher at Ponce De Leon Elementary, attended the program with her granddaughters. It gave her, along with granddaughters Selah, Ava and Shiloh, a chance to break a move to the beat of West African drums. After the program, Graham said she'd like to have such a program for her students.
"This type of activity and movement is so good for kids. It brings out the creativity and relieves tension," she said.
And if Turner had the opportunity to hold a bongo circle with anyone in the world, who would he choose?
"Democrats and Republicans. I'd have Dick Cheney and Barack Obama bongo together," he said. "After they'd drum, they wouldn't be so uptight. Can you imagine?"
Reach Piper Castillo at [email protected] or (727) 445-7163.