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'Every Child's a Star' Participants Develop Talent, Make a Difference

Auditions for the March 24 talent show for school-aged kids, an Advocates for Bartow's Children fundraiser, are set for Jan. 26 and 28.

While a number of benefits vary depending on the child, participants in "Every Child's a Star" have the opportunity to develop and showcase their talents while raising funds for a good cause.

"With so many shows like American Idol, X-Factor and The Voice, it gives local youth a chance to be a part of something like that on a smaller level. It also helps youth set a goal, work up an 'act' and then reach the goal," said the show's producer and director, Mary Clayton Gilbert, who also is Bartow County's and Georgia's current Distinguished Young Woman. "One year, a girl named Emily Valesquez won the overall title. Someone saw her and recommended that she try out for a state show choir.

"Emily auditioned and was cast. She then went on to gain even more experience on stage and now she attends an arts school in Baltimore. This can be a indicator if the student has something special or has stage presence."

Billed as Bartow's premier talent show for children in grades kindergarten through 12th, this year's "Every Child's a Star" aims to raise $8,500 for nonprofit Advocates for Bartow's Children.

"More importantly when a parent encourages their child to be a part of a fundraiser, they become more aware of programs like Advocates for Children," Gilbert said. "They see that even as a youth, they too can make a difference through community service.

"This can go on resumes, college profiles and scholarship applications. So being a part of this activity has many benefits including making new friends with youth all over our city."

The funding would be used to support for eight Advocates programs, including Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Children’s Advocacy Center, First Steps for new moms and . 

"Many of the programs are partially funded with grants, but none of them are fully funded that way, so we have to raise a lot of money each year from events and private donations from individuals and corporations," Gilbert added. "Only with this kind of help can we adequately [aid] all the 2,500 children and family members who need our services. 

"We do not ever want to have to turn children away. Every program of is designed to prevent child abuse or to help those who are already its victims."

Organizers Hope for Variety, Group Acts

The most common act in the annual event is girls' solo voice performances, but organizers hope for more group acts, which are considered entertaining and different.

"[Mostly girls' singing solos] really needs to change because there is talent in so many areas. It would be great to see some upcoming rock bands, hip-hop groups, acting teams...just variety," Gilbert added. "One year there was a karate group and the audience loved it.

"That is why this year we are really trying to emphasize forming a group and auditioning. One thing we are trying to add is a Show Choir category. With the popular TV show Glee, show choirs are really popular [and] it would be great to see the community come together in groups and audition."

Groups Gilbert would welcome include those representing , , and .

"Our goal is that 'Every Child’s a Star' becomes like the Cartersville Christmas Parade, an event where the city wants to participate—instead of single individuals all coming together—for the whole purpose, not to win, but to raise money for the abused children of Bartow County," Gilbert said.

Auditions Set for March Talent Show

for the March 24 talent show are set for Thursday, Jan. 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 28, from 1 to 3 p.m., and parents can choose which day fits best in their schedules.

Gilbert offered these tips to parents and kids considering auditioning:

• Pick songs and acts that are age appropriate. "It’s not good to see a young girl singing lyrics that imply adult behaviors," she said. "Apply that same thought to costumes."

• Assist child performers in developing entertaining acts that showcase extra talents. "For example, if your child cannot sing high notes, do not pick a song with a wide range," she added. "But more importantly, be involved with the child.

"One year my brother was involved in the fundraiser and my mother helped him select the song, the costume and they developed a special soundtrack just for his act. Don’t just leave it up to the kids; parents need to get behind it too."

Because the purpose of "Every Child’s a Star" is to raise money, participants are required to sell 10 tickets to the talent show set to be held at 's Performing Arts Center.

"If you don’t have everything just perfect and ready for the audition, come on out anyway. The show is not until March 24," Gilbert said. "The judges can see if your act will be a good addition for the show.

"They will also continue to work with you over the next couple of weeks in preparation. Also if there’s a conflict in times let someone know. There’s always a way to work out individual situations if you want to be a part of the fundraiser."

Auditions will be conducted at Expedition Church, 32 Center Road in Cartersville.

For more information, call Advocates at 770-387-1143, visit its website or email Gilbert at marycee26@aol.com. Also "like" Every Child's a Star 2012 on Facebook.

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