Last week, I had the chance to visit our last year’s school, KCAPA, for their back-to-school night. I was headed there after work and it was definitely a long day. When I got there, however, I found that I couldn’t help but smile when I ran into our students from last year and heard the impact that the AYA Project had on them. One student told me excitedly how she had continued to write songs all summer and was finding so much joy in the process. Another told me that her mentor had just reached out to her that week to get together and continue their relationship. And one of our shyest students came to tell me that she was trying out for a solo in her choir for the first time.
None of this is to brag about what “we’ve” done. Truthfully, our program does nothing more than provide our students with the resources and opportunities that every young person deserves. Sadly, budget cuts, standardized tests, and disinvestment in arts education have left many of our youth without those opportunities. In Philadelphia, only 50% of schools have ANY music programming, and almost none offer instruction or support for original songwriting. In our own small way, we are trying to change that dynamic and tell our students that their voices matter and their dreams are within their reach. And based on the words of our students themselves, I really and truly believe that it is working. Thank you all for being a part of this journey and helping to turn dreams into reality (for both me and the students)!!
Peace and Love everyone–