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Group aims to spread hope through song

They sing. They dance. They serve the community. They spread positive messages wherever they travel. They are Up With People.

The international organization for young people has a 50-year history of working to create a “more hopeful, trusting and peaceful world,” according to its mission statement.

Up With People will stop in the Las Vegas area March 11-18 and is seeking host families for its cast of more than 100 along with projects it can help with, said Eric Wiley, a promotion representative for the global education nonprofit based in Denver.

Wiley said the group is touring with 116 people from 15 countries including Belgium, Bermuda, China, Germany, the Netherlands, Mexico and the United States. Members range in age from 17 to 29, with the majority in their early 20s, he added.

Wiley said that during their stay, cast members expect to perform about 1,000 hours of community service between March 12 and March 14 and conduct a workshop for performing arts students at Desert Oasis High School, the site of a concert that highlights their stay in the area.

He said they prefer to stay with local families “to learn about neighborhoods and communities,” as well as become immersed in the area’s culture.

In return, hosts learn about cast members’ hometowns and countries, and many often prepare a meal for those they are staying with, Wiley said.

Wiley said hosts are responsible for providing breakfast and dinner each day and limited transportation. One day during the week will be set aside for the host and cast members to spend as they wish.

“We’re not picky,” he said about sleeping accommodations. “We can sleep on the floor or couches.”

The group began this tour in mid-February, and Las Vegas is its fourth stop. It will move on to several cities in California and Washington before heading to Mexico and Europe, Wiley said. In all, the group will stop in 15 to 18 cities.

Working on a two-semester system per year, the group’s cast changes every six months and offers the ability to gain academic credit for participation.

Wiley said young people who might like to join Up With People on a future tour can get a “backstage pass” to get an insider’s view of the program, which costs $17,400. He added that various grants and scholarships are available to help offset the cost.

Up With People’s two-hour show is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at Desert Oasis High School, 6600 W. Erie Ave., Las Vegas. Tickets start at $10 each; host families will receive two tickets to the performance

Tickets are available at www.upwithpeople.org/lasvegas.

For information about hosting or potential community service projects, contact Wiley at 678-580-8876 or ewiley@upwithpeople.org or JiaYu Shi at 720-338-0665 or jshi@upwithpeople.org.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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