Harmonikids Session at Yavapai Juvenile Detention Center
06 September, 2019
On August 8, 2019 I provided a Hohner-sponsored Harmonikids session to participants at the Yavapai County Juvenile Justice Center in Prescott, Arizona. Over the years Harmonikids’ ongoing programs to assist the youth in detention facilities have become among my personal favorites because the teen participants (some of whom have been neglected, abandoned, and/or abused in their young lives) receive much-needed self esteem and confidence from the experience. Harmonikids provides a healthy and positive form of creative expression and emotional release for detained youth in this crucial time in their lives. Simply stated, the lessons often become an inspiration for these adolescents to grow, change, forgive the world – and themselves. The harmonica often becomes a powerful but gentle tool to help kids get back on track. Long ago I learned to never underestimate the strength of music and the harmonica as a remarkable tool to reach out and make a positive difference in young lives. The benefits Harmonikids provided are shared bellow in the insightful email received from facility detention officer Corey Marshall. Of special note, he says that making music on harmonicas is an activity that is now being used by the youth as path to “help them control their behavior” and “calm their emotions”. This is something I hear consistently from detention facilities and one of my program objectives. Also attached is an insightful and moving note of thanks from one of the detained teens.
~ Gary Allegretto, Founding Director of Harmonikids, www.harmonikids.org
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the time you spent with the youth at the Juvenile Justice Center. You have shown them that such a small instrument the harmonica can deliver the great sound of music. You taught them songs they never thought they could actually play.
The youths we see come from such diverse backgrounds. Some don’t think that they are good at succeeding let alone learning to play the harmonica. Music is a huge deal to our youths and you have shown them something they can carry on with in their future.
After you left, I was amazed how many were so encouraged in wanting to learn more. Many were practicing what you taught them. They would learn a song and be so excited to show everyone around what they learned. They were also interested that the harmonica was used in the Civil War era which is something you taught them. This was an important factor as they were just learning about the Civil War.
Something interesting that I saw was some of the youths using them as a way to help them control their behavior for example: we had a couple youths upset and rather than lashing out they instead wanted to play the harmonica as a way to calm their emotions.
Thank you for taking the time to pass on your knowledge. It was not only educational and fun but inspirational for the youths. Please continue to help youths as you do because you really do make a positive difference and impact on them.
~ Corey Marshall, Detention Officer, Yavapai Youth Justice Center