Children International fights poverty through music

Media Contact

Brittany Gelbach
Public Relations Manager
(816) 943-3832
bgelbach@children.org

Kansas City, MO (June 19, 2017) Make Music Day is celebrated on June 21 each year as a day to celebrate music in all its forms and appreciate the many benefits of making music. Music has the power to connect and inspire. And for kids in poverty, it can change their life trajectory.

Children International (CI) has implemented a Music for Development program in the Dominican Republic since 2014 and in Colombia since 2015. The program is based off the El Sistema method, which uses the power of music to show disadvantaged kids what it’s like to be an asset within their communities. Through the program, children and teens learn to play classical music as part of an orchestra. The classes include an introduction to music and music appreciation, as well as lessons on how to read sheet music. Students practice in groups, and then the entire orchestra rehearses together. The El Sistema method also puts an emphasis on peer-to-peer instruction, which cultivates leadership skills and the habit of helping others.

An instructor helps a student learn to play the saxophoneOrchestra teacher Juan Carlos says it’s a joy to see his students succeeding. | Download image

Learning music in this way gives kids a sense of purpose, achievement and responsibility. It builds self-confidence and encourages creativity. All the while, participants learn teamwork and study skills. And the long practices and rehearsals keep youth away from destructive environments and behaviors, such as gangs and drug use.

Juan David, a participant from Colombia says, “My favorite instrument is the flute. When I’m playing, I feel very peaceful and calm, because I leave my world behind. I leave my problems behind, and I can just concentrate on myself and the music coming from my flute.”

A boy practices the flute. Juan David enjoys participating in CI’s Music for Development program. His favorite instrument is the flute. | Download image

Hermelinda Guarín, CI's agency director in Colombia, says, “I have to tell you that I can't help it — that my eyes fill with tears every time I have the opportunity to see these kids playing these instruments. They are not just learning how to play an instrument but learning about life skills like teamwork, discipline and creativity, among others. They are also learning that no matter how hard life is for some of them, they deserve to be happy, to enjoy life and to have a fun space where they can dream and make their dreams come true."

A young man practices the cello. Learning music gives kids in poverty a sense of purpose, achievement and responsibility, while also building self-confidence and encouraging creativity. | Download image

CI is expanding the Music for Development program in both Colombia and the Dominican Republic this year, including the addition of a choral group.

Recognizing the importance of arts programs in general for empowering youth, CI also plans to launch new programs, including theater, dance and painting, in other countries over the next few years.

Learn more about CI’s empowerment programs.

About Children International
Children International is a leader in the movement to eradicate poverty. From toddler to young adulthood, we surround kids with a caring team, a safe place and a clear path out of poverty through programs focused on health, education, empowerment and employment. Our supporters are inspired as they see children radically change their lives and create a ripple effect that impacts their families and communities for generations to come.