Sharing Songs for a Brighter Tomorrow Program

Program Description:
The Sharing Songs for a Brighter Tomorrow Program consists of working with classes of  middle/high school students in a  music performance course, wiht a focus on
economically disadvantaged students’ participation.  Interactive instruction provides students with the history of and techniques for singing traditional folk songs to perform for a target audience of residents in nursing homes and care centers. The course is one semester  in duration and is offered twice during the school year. The last two weeks are spent performing at the facilities. The course is offered at no charge to students and Blue Sky Institute  provides all expenses for instructors and materials, pending funding.

Mission Statement of project:
We believe that value exists in participating in a community service that brings diverse populations together. Our mission is to provide an opportunity for the youth of our community that will instill a positive sense of self worth through active participation in improving the quality of life for elderly and isolated populations. Sharing Songs for a Brighter Tomorrow will provide this opportunity through music classes and performances by youth for isolated members of the community.

Description of the need for the project:
Many young people are at risk due to being disconnected from the wider community. A program that will involve them in actions that contribute to the welfare of the wider community is required to facilitate their inclusion and sense of belonging within the community. The lack of opportunities for voluntarily taking a role in improving the conditions for others in the community makes it difficult for young people to become involved with service to their community.

Innovative aspects of the project:
Many avenues exist for young people to provide service to their community, either thru court order or a desire to help. By participating in this program, young people will experience immediate positive feedback from their service, as they witness the joy produced thru their efforts. This is better than other forms of community service because it provides opportunities for direct interaction between diverse age groups. Introducing the element of fun to community service makes it more appealing.

Activities that will occur through the project:
Tuition-free classes will be provided for at risk and low-income youth. Students will learn about the needs of their target audience as well as some history of folk music while rehearsing for their part in a presentation to be provided to isolated segments of the community in Care Centers, Detention Centers, and Hospitals etc. The act of providing musical entertainment to these isolated populations will broaden the horizons and improve the outlook of the target constituency.

Impact that the project will have:
This project will strengthen the community thru involving young people in directly providing entertainment and improved quality of life for isolated segments of the community. It will improve the outlook and attitude of both the youth as well as those for whom the youth perform. The concept of “community service” within the participants will be changed from a form of punishment to a rewarding experience.

How the impact will be measured:
A baseline was established in the spring of 2001 when this program was successfully piloted in a youth rehabilitation center. Due to confidentiality issues we were not permitted to gather testimonials in writing. Since then we have successfully implemented the program in a variety of formats in a public charter school.  In addition to using future testimonials we plan to utilize surveys given to all persons involved with both age groups to measure and track the program’s effectiveness. Data will be used to refine the program and make appropriate adjustments to enhance the program’s effectiveness.

Our experience with the community and constituency the project will serve:
Deanna has many years of experience working with youth on a daily basis thru her teaching career. Deanna grew up around nursing home atmospheres, as her grandmother and mother were both health care professionals in this field. Deanna also worked her way through college in nursing homes. Both Deanna and Tom have been working in the entertainment aspect in nursing homes and care centers throughout the years. They have both experienced the positive benefits of intergenerational interaction.

Our experience providing the proposed service:
Deanna has experience organizing music camps for youth in various communities. Deanna and Tom have worked in the entertainment aspect in nursing homes and care centers all over the country. Through her teaching career, Deanna has extensive experience teaching programs of music to adolescents and taking them to various performing events in the community.

This project in the larger context of social change:
We realize that social change takes time and commitment. We are committed to improving the lives of those in our community, beginning locally. We have seen first hand how music can heal and create bonds between generations. We believe that by working with our targeted adolescent population we can begin to effect the change in our area of diverse people working harmoniously together to create a positive, effective, active community.

NOTE:  This program was originally called The Old Time Songters and Showmanship program.