It began when we entered the Neonatal ward at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance (near Los Angeles). There was a palpable silence; the heavy breathing of sick babies drew us in like a clarion call for service. Our hostess, the nurses and our band looked at each other with jaws almost dropped. I could feel tears welling. “This is the domain of angels!” someone seemed to be saying in my ear.
Hearts wide open, for the next hour, we presented acoustic songs/prayers in the children’s ward for a dozen children and in the pediatric waiting area. We also gifted our first large donation of albums and books to the hospital! The experience with the newborns was particularly touching; the nurses asked us to play a couple extra lullabies for the lil babes … a simple dosage of singing and toning with a dab of positive energy to bring smiles to these children’s dreams. One grandmother pulled me aside, and whispered “You don’t know how IMPORTANT this is … THANK YOU & WE LOVE YOU!”
Later that evening, there was much ado about the Imagination Heals Launch event at the Beverly Hilton. We had a packed house with the 300-person Wilshire Room transformed into Pacha’s dreamworld; life-size characters from the greatest festival on earth PACHA JAMMA, a stage powered by electric eels and celebrity rock-rock stars on the red carpet. We featured ten youth stars as part of the Pacha’s Pajamas musical. Lil Jaxe and Milo McFly flew like nature superheroes. Moni Burkhardt opened hearts as the 5th Beetle singing “Imagine.” Jaheem Toombs sang “I Want You Back” for all the mushroom ladies out there. The Agape Youth Choir brought the house down with the legendary Rock-Soul singer Lester Chambers. And even some Disney kids joined in the zany theatrical experience! The Pacha’s Pajamas story came to life in a miraculous display of magic, with resounding applause, launching a beautiful program going out to children in hospitals across the nation.
The evening also featured an opening ritual by Mona Pollaca of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, our hostess with the mostest Genevieve Goings of Disney’s “Choo Choo Soul”, Kendall Schmidt of Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush”, Olympic Gold Medalist and actress Cathy Rigby, and the Imagination Heals award ceremony honoring the pioneering Children’s Arts organization Discovery Arts and Lester Chambers. Finally… we had arrived in Hollywood — well, actually next door in Beverly Hills! But despite all the hype, it was those children in the hospital which lit up our hearts, giving purpose to this work beyond what any press, media or celebrity could ever do.
With bringing hope and joy to hospitalized children as our compass, we offer our humble gratitude to the founding Imagination Heals sponsors A Forever Recovery and Best Drug Rehabilitation, and our amazing community of support! We love you and will not stop until the world’s children find healing and happiness.
Other posts and photos from the launch event
Aaron Ableman (aka A-Natural) is an entertainer, author, and ecologist. He grew up under the guidance of a farmer/author (his father) and a public health care nurse (his mother), studying with Hopi elders, Oxford Rhodes scholars and various spiritual leaders. He has worked with Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Cypress Hill, Raffi, K’NAAN, Joan Baez, amongst many others. From India to Haiti, he has produced educational entertainment programs for at-risk children and youth. His life and work have been heralded in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, CNN, New York Times, Montreal Mirror and San Francisco Examiner. Twitter: @ablemantra