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Winnipeg's 'Little Drummer Boy' goes international

Musician in tune with needy people

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Sean Quigley has a passion for playing drums, but he has an even greater passion for helping people.

As many Winnipeggers already know, Quigley's music video, The Little Drummer Boy, went viral last year with almost 2.5-million hits on YouTube.

World Vision saw Quigley's latest music video, Our Generation, on YouTube and asked the Oak Park High School student to join them in Armenia and Georgia this fall, where Quigley taught youths how to use video equipment while trying to help raise outside awareness about local issues such as health care, water sanitation and education. World Vision is hopeful the videos will prompt governments to act.

While abroad, Quigley, 17, also shared his experiences making his latest music video, which he describes as an anthem for youth who want to make a difference in our world.

"I wanted to teach them that technology and social media can strengthen our voice as youth in our countries," Quigley said in an interview at his family's Charleswood home Thursday.

The youth of Armenia and Georgia also taught Quigley a thing or two. In Akhaltsikhe, a city in Georgia's southwestern region, Quigley met Sopia, a 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Her parents are potato farmers but don't own much land and have little income.

"Their house was very small, with only one room," Quigley said. "They had about half a hectare of land."

Sopia was forced to stay in the house because her parents couldn't afford a wheelchair, and she was getting too big to carry.

The community's youth decided to take action and bought Sopia a TV and DVD player. This allowed Sopia to learn inside her home. With the help of World Vision, they also raised money to buy her a wheelchair.

"It's amazing to see kids with almost nothing raise money for someone else," Quigley said.

He was inspired and wanted to make a difference. After his trip, he sought donations to help Sopia.

"I decided to use that passion that's ignited when you meet someone in need face to face," he said.

Margaret Ilderton, a teacher's assistant at Westdale Junior High School, has never met Quigley, but shares that same passion.

"I wanted to help Sean because my cousin has cerebral palsy," said Ilderton. "He lives in Canada and gets the help he needs."

Ilderton, a colleague of Quigley's mom, donated $100 for Sopia.

"I didn't realize he'd get that many donations so quickly," she said. "I'm really happy about that."

Quigley raised $1,000 for a wheelchair ramp outside Sopia's home. Now, she's registered for three classes at a local school. "He initiated it on his own," said Devin Hollis, a World Vision student and youth engagement worker. "It was something he was impacted by."

A class of Grade 3 students in Wawanesa, about 50 kilometres southeast of Brandon, were also inspired after they saw Quigley's latest video on YouTube. The students used homemade drums to play The Little Drummer Boy at their Christmas concert and raised $250 for World Vision.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 28, 2012 A14

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