Copyright 2013 by Teofilo Colon Jr. (a.k.a. “Tio Teo” or “Teofilo Campeon”) All Rights Reserved. Telephone: (646) 961-3674.
Brooklyn, New York: Tamagotchi, a Japanese keychain-sized virtual pet simulation game and toy company, recently announced that 17 year old Garifuna American girl Francesca Cheney garnered enough votes to be named the winner of its Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. Hometown Hero Award. This award pays tribute to young people who are changing their communities through passion and dedication. As a result, Francesca Chaney is also the recipient of a $5,000 check that will go to her non-profit organization, G.A.I.N. (Girls Advocating and Innovating The Nation).
Francesca Chaney won as a result of garnering the most votes over a two month period. Two or three other individuals/non-profit organizations were also hoping to be named a Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. (an acronym which stands for Life Is Fun Everyday) Hometown Hero Award Winner.
While the G.A.I.N. non-profit organization does not currently have 501 (c)(3) status (which makes a non-profit organization tax exempt), G.A.I.N aims to secure that status in the coming months. In an exclusive interview with beinggarifuna.com, Francesca Chaney talks about the future plans of her non-profit organization.
How do you and your non-profit organization feel having won the Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. Hometown Hero Contest?
Francesca Chaney — We’re beyond grateful. November marked the beginning of our third year as an organization and movement. There’s no better way to kick off the start of our third year and move forward with all of the exciting events and programs that we have planned for the future!
How did you come across or learn about the Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. Hometown Hero Contest?
Francesca Chaney — A while back one of my friends had seen an ad for the contest and she nominated me but I didn’t win. This time around I was re-entered into the contest and thankfully I won!
What did you learn about other non-profit organizations or in general after having been part of this contest several times?
Francesca Chaney — We’ve experienced both sides of this contest- winning and losing, in both times I’ve realized that it’s all about how far the supporters are willing to go for an organization that they care about and support. As an organization we can only go so far on our own, but with support from others we can go even further.
How will winning $5,000 help your non-profit organization, G.A.I.N. meet it’s objective/mission statement?
Francesca Chaney — From the start of our movement we’ve always done our best to reach our objective by running mentoring programs, youth summits, and hosting a wide variety of other events, winning $5,000 will allow us to better enhance these programs in order to benefit our movement, the community and the youth that we work with.
Do you have any specific plans for the $5,000?
Francesca Chaney — Amongst our group, we have discussed how to best use the $5,000 to ensure that it in our future plans, it will contribute to the sustained growth of G.A.I.N. both as an organization and as a movement.
What are the future goals for G.A.I.N?
Francesca Chaney — Currently we work with a community center in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Within the next couple of years we plan on having our own community center that will allow us to host workshops and after school programs that foster growth, empowerment, self-esteem, and self expression through the combination of the arts and activism. Looking to the far future within the next seven years I plan on opening a school that will infuse the same elements of GAIN into an educational curriculum that will be accessible to all youth who wish to attend.
Readers of BEING GARIFUNA should remember that Ms. Francesca Chaney was one of the dynamic Garifuna American youths honored in a special Salute that took place at the screening of the independent film, GARIFUNA IN PERIL on Wednesday, October 2nd 2013 in Manhattan.
About FRANCESCA CHANEY
Francesca “Chessie” Chaney is a 17 year old Actress, Pop/R&B Singer and Songwriter. While her mother Emily is from Dangriga, Belize, Francesca is from Hollis, Queens, New York. Her talent in the arts was displayed at the tender age of 2. She is also a Humanitarian, Mentor, Youth Leader and an Advocate whose accomplishments at such a young age are noteworthy.
She is the Founder/President/CEO of Girls Advocating and Innovating the Nation (G.A.I.N) www.everygirlmustgain.org , a non-profit organization, whose mission is to build a platform where young women are able to come together to empower each other and advocate for a cause in order to innovate the world around them. In 2011 she started the organization solely as a mentoring program to younger girls, to build self esteem; but their mission soon transformed into a movement when they saw the need to address more issues in their communities. Through weekly discussions amongst the young ladies of GAIN, community outreach, as well as outreach abroad, and empowerment workshops for youth, they have managed to impact the lives of over 1,000 youth in New York and Belize combined.
In the spring of this year, Francesca’s G.A.I.N. organization held a Youth Arts and Activism Empowerment Summit in Brooklyn. Here is a link to News12 Brooklyn’s News coverage of the event. http://brooklyn.news12.com/news/brooklyn-teens-host-arts-and-activism-summit-at-i-s-218-in-east-new-york-1.4826215
Francesca also took the mission of her organization G.A.I.N. to Belize, which put the organization on the map internationally. While in Belize, they hosted their first annual High School Tour for Peace and garnered attention from Belize media.
It was a collaboration with Link Alley Records and this tour was a trip to Belize and consisted of motivational speeches, performances and interaction with the youth. The overall mission of this tour was to build cross cultural relationships abroad. According to the (G.A.I.N.) website, 1000 youths in Belize were impacted by this tour.
Below is the trailer for this tour that was placed on Youtube.
G.A.I.N also hosted their first annual “Quest Awards” this past summer, which honored youth who make positive strides in their communities through the arts, activism, and cultural contributions. They used the opportunity to make it clear that the youth culture includes many positive aspects, and while the media often choose to highlight the negative they chose to shine a spotlight on youths who are on a “Quest” towards a “Greater Good.”
Francesca is also the Youth Advisor for the Lay The Guns Down Foundation, a Brooklyn organization which aims to raise awareness about gun violence amongst children and adults and educate them about its consequences. Click here to see an interview with Sandra Bookman of the ABC Public Affairs show, Here and Now in September 2012.
As noted earlier, Garifuna American Francesca Chaney is also an actress and singer. Her songs “Crush”, “We’ll Dance All Night” were on the Tween Pop Radio Top Forty Chart for over a year. Her collaboration with rapper Jojo “The Way It Goes” also made an appearance on the Top Forty Chart of Tween Pop Radio.
Francesca sang at the Brooklyn Summit and Youth Memorial, which was held at Brooklyn Borough Hall. She sang her latest single, “Bring the Peace Back” which she wrote and recorded for the Lay The Guns Down Foundation.
She also sang the National Anthem of The United States at New York City Comptroller John C. Liu’s 2012 Veterans Recognition.
She also performed at the “Not In My Hood” Concert for Youth Service, the Peace Week Youth Concert and at the 2011 Torch Music Fest; where she sang her song, “Time Will Heal”. She also performed at The Miss Tropical Paradise Beauty Pageant, The Hava Opening, The Next Big Celebrity Concert, the Santa Clarita Business Expo and the Orange County Fair in California.
Her acting credits include, starring in the Educational Short Film, “Broken Harmonies” which was sponsored by the City of New York and Start Strong Bronx. She also has a song on the soundtrack, called “Stay Strong”, which has a positive message to end teen dating violence and abuse.
Francesca Chaney got the lead role in the Off-Broadway Musical, “Milk Carton Molly”. She also performed in the Off-Broadway production of “Evergreen”, a Holiday Musical by the Prospect Theater Company. Below is her starring role in the short film written and directed by Estella Chizhik, “Up Jump The Boogie”.
Additional Film and TV Credits for Francesca Chaney include the Nickelodeon game show Brain Surge and the Black Christian Movie, “Don’t Touch If You Ain’t Prayed 2”.
With all these accomplishments, I am proud to be able to salute Garifuna American Francesca Chaney and extend a hearty “Buidumebei!” (“Congratulations/Success!” in the Garifuna Language) to her upon being named the winner of the Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. Hometown Hero Award.
For more information about Garifuna American Francesca “Chessie” Chaney and G.A.I.N, please click on the following links.
According to wikipedia, the Tamagotchi is a keychain-sized virtual pet simulation game made in Japan. The characters are colorful and simplistically designed creatures based on animals, objects, or people. Over 79 million Tamagotchis have been sold worldwide. Most Tamagotchis are housed in a small egg-shaped computer with an interface usually consisting of three buttons, although the number of buttons may vary.
Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. (an acronym for Love Is Fun Everywhere) is an evolution of the Tamagotchi Toy into a line of lifestyle products being introduced in the United States and Canada. The Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. Hometown Hero Contest is a way to pay tribute to young people who are changing their communities through passion and dedication. Winners of this contest are awarded $5,000 and are the recipients of a personalized Hometown Hero Crystal Award. One Hometown Hero is awarded every two months.
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— – Teofilo Colon Jr