Power of Youth on display

Weekend event brings young stars, fans together to help

“R U going to the Variety Power of Youth?”

The tweet from 13-year-old actress Bella Thorne sums up the excited Web chatter among kid stars in anticipation of “The World’s Greatest Block Party” Saturday on the Paramount lot.

Now in its third year, Variety’s Power of Youth event has become a hot ticket among teen talent, serving up fun, performances and food to both young stars and children directly affected by the event’s beneficiaries: Starlight Children’s Foundation, which helps seriously ill children and their families cope with their diseases through entertainment and education; and L.A.’s BEST, which provides after-school activities and education to more than 28,000 economically disadvantaged kids.

The afternoon will include performances by Honor Society, School of Rock and the casts of “Fame” and ABC Family’s “Make It or Break It,” as attendees have the chance to visit activity stations set up by sponsors Best Buy @15, Electronic Arts, Sony PlayStation, Chipotle, Coca-Cola and Kyocera.

Last year, teen stars Selena Gomez and Miranda Cosgrove competed in a virtual dance-off. That kind of spontaneous moment is what sets Variety’s Power of Youth event apart (the year before, Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens did an impromptu karaoke together), creating an unforgettable day for disadvantaged and seriously ill children to interact with the performers they admire on a peer level. Young stars, too, collect magical moments.

“I remember one girl in particular who really touched my heart, named Ellen,” recalls Power of Youth ambassador Madison Pettis. “At just 4 years old, she had the courage to sing beautifully in front of all of the people at the Power of Youth event last year, despite the fact that she had lost all her hair due to her cancer treatment.”

The Power of Youth initiative was created to motivate young talent to become involved with philanthropic and humanitarian causes, and this year, five celebrities under the age of 25 will be honored for their individual activism and support with Variety’s Power of Youth @15 Award, presented by Best Buy.

“These are kids who don’t just stick their faces on something; they are out there really working to try and effect change,” says Variety publisher Brian Gott. “The whole idea of the Power of Youth is empowering young Hollywood to get involved, give back and get their fans to do the same.”

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