This week, a YouTube video Kony 2012 went viral with celebrities applauding the non-profit filmmaker group Invisible Children’s efforts to go after a man who used kids as human shields in Uganda.
The filmmakers want to take down Joseph Kony, the Ugandan Leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and support the war-affected communities in Central Africa. The video was uploaded on March 5 and earned more than 47 million views and sparked not only interest, but also criticism of Invisible Children.
But even before the firestorm hit, Livermore teen Braden Sweeney, 17, had decided to throw his support to the group doing what he does best: performing.
The junior will be presenting a talent showcase at 7:30 p.m. March 24 at with dancers and singers from around the Bay Area in a fundraising effort for Invisible Children. Tickets are just $10 and all proceeds will go directly to Invisible Children.
His ambitious project shows just what a young person can do when they have the drive and commitment to make the world a better place.
Braden’s inspiration came from a four-week trip last year to New York, Boston and Washington D.C. with his parents Steve and Nicole and younger siblings Connor, 12, and Lauren, 15.
Part of the trip included going to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC
“I was so moved by what I saw there, I wanted to share what I had learned and help make a difference in some way,” Braden said.
He began researching genocide happening today and discovered Invisible Children.
“I saw them on Oprah, so I knew they were reputable and doing such good work in Africa right now,” Braden said.
Braden had been performing in musical theater since he was 7, so it was a natural to turn to what he knew best in order to raise funds.
“I just asked people I knew over the years through performing with different theater companies to come and perform,” Braden said. “What I think is the coolest thing about doing this is that it will raise a lot of money for Invisible Children, provide an awesome show and give younger performers — the age range is 14 to 22 — a place to perform. It’s a win-win-win situation.”
Braden has always had an active interest in community service, and is an officer for the school’s Interact Club, Rotary International’s service club for people aged 12-18.
This is the first time Braden has taken on such a large-scale project on his own.
“It’s definitely been very challenging,“ Braden said. “But as hard as the work has been, it has given me an energy I never had before. It’s that energy of giving back that has been so inspiring and I’ve enjoyed every second of it.”
For more information on the groups who will be performing or purchasing tickets in advance, go to his by clicking here.