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    Harmonikids Hohner Sponsored Session To Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Kamloops

    15 September, 2013

    On Sunday March 10th, 2013 Gary Allegretto was asked to provide a Hohner-sponsored Harmonikids session to the children at Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Kamloops in B.C., Canada. As described in their website: "BBBS is Canada’s leading child and youth mentoring charity, facilitating life-changing relationships that inspire and empower children and youth to reach their potential, both as individuals and citizens. It is the mission of BBBS of Kamloops to foster positive self-esteem and competency in children and youth by providing and promoting friendship, guidance and support."

    The Harmonikids session was a resounding success. The children in the improvised classroom at a local bowling alley were all from economically challenged backgrounds, most with single parent or non-biological parent guardians. As the session started the kids seemed a bit fidgety and unsure, but within minutes the children giggled and applauded to Gary's captivating performance. They were joyfully astonished with Hohner's gift of shiny new harmonicas. Soon they beamed with pride as they followed Gary's instruction and quickly learned to accurately play four songs on the instruments. Within just 90 minutes they all became proud harmonica players who were delighted to show off their new-found talent to surrounding friends and family.

    The session was attended by BBBS of Kamloops' Vice President (and "At The Crossroads" Blues Radio show host) Brant Zwicker, who describes the session as follows:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I am writing to you as vice president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kamloops & Region in British Columbia. As host of the long-time syndicated blues radio show At the Crossroads, which has featured his music, I have worked with Gary Allegretto for a number of years.

    Gary recently conducted one of his Harmonikids workshops for our disadvantaged children from one-parent families, and I was lucky enough to be able to see the session in full swing.

    I cannot speak highly enough of the seminar, of Gary’s presentation and ability to interact with the kids, and of the response of the children. It was remarkable to watch the youngsters, some rather fidgety at the outset, open up and simply shine as they realized that they could actually learn to play music, right then and there, and have fun at the same time. And for them to walk away after the workshop with sheet music and a shiny new Hohner harp in their hands was something they could scarcely believe.

    Since the session, I have had at least two reports of these lucky children having breakfast and then insisting on practicing harmonica before going to school. As adults, we understand music is one of the wonders of the world, that it breaks down barriers, and that it can deeply and positively affect youngsters – these children now know that, as well.

    I sincerely thank Gary Allegretto for establishing and maintaining Harmonikids, a remarkable musical opportunity for young people, and Hohner for its invaluable support. As a member of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters family, as a blues broadcaster, and as someone who understands the connection between music and people, especially our youth, I congratulate both of you for this outstanding initiative.


    Brant Zwicker

    Vice President, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kamloops & Region www.bbbskamloops.ca

    Host, At the Crossroads Blues Radio Show www.atcblues.ca