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Hear Our Voices: Songwriting with At-Risk Youth

Hear our Voices, an innovative music therapy project aimed at promoting healthy attitudes and behaviors in at-risk youth through the use of a 14-week structured songwriting program, started in 2007 thanks to a $3000 grant from the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Music Therapy Association. Since then, the program has continued to operate in several afterschool programs with generous funding from Exelon Generation.

Board-certified music therapists are running this after-school program at the Hancock St. John (H & S) Learning Center (Kensington), Drueding Center, and Belmont Charter School (Philadelphia).  In addition, after initially being funded through Exelon Generation, the program has since been adopted by Carson Valley Children's Aid (Flourtown) with the site's own funding. The songwriting program uses a theme-centered approach aimed at providing the children with a creative outlet for exploration and expression of issues relevant to their lives (violence, gangsterism, family situation, drug use, anger management, school, and peer pressure) and opportunity to collaboratively create strategies for personal safety and success.  Each 14-week cycle culminates in a CD release party to celebrate the songs created by the youth. The first CD release party was covered by ABC news and CBS news.

The goal is to continue to replicate this songwriting program in regional community centers that serve at-risk youth.