With most summer programs and camps for teens and younger children cancelled due to COVID-19, families are looking for outlets to keep their kids connected and uplifted through the summer.
Limitless Health Institute (LHI) has partnered with Kingsbridge Heights Community Center (KHCC) in the Bronx to launch a new online version of Song Connects Us, a free program in which students use music and lyrics to support each other and become more aware of their feelings, words, and actions. Offering the program on a digital platform allows children and teens to adjust to new social distancing standards in NYC.
Guided by licensed teachers and music professionals, participants start with creative exercises such as writing about their feelings, playing call-and-response rhythms to practice listening, and learning the techniques that lyricists use to create timeless songs. Throughout the program, students collaborate to create a dynamic final performance! Bronx youth are heirs to the borough’s rich musical legacy, and Song Connects Us allows a new generation to experience the joy of creating and expressing together.
LHI is a non-profit organization that envisions a world where we all realize that our own health and happiness are linked to the health and happiness of others. LHI offers free programs throughout New York City which help people experience the benefits of helping each other achieve their goals. LHI connects with community centers throughout the city working together to adapt new mandates for health and educational organizations while giving greater accessibility for the youth to express their hopes and dreams together.
Lobsang Chunzom, founder of LHI, says of the Song Connects Us, “Now more than ever, due to the suspension of school and most activities, kids need ways to stay connected with each other. They also need ways to express their feelings about the current situation. Song Connects Us is the perfect way for them to do this in a safe, creative, and supportive environment, and Kingsbridge Center is the perfect partner to reach those looking for these resources in the Bronx community.”
Carlos Salgado, STEM Specialist at KHCC, says “Song Connects Us is a great way for the participants to express themselves through music and sound. At first, some of the participants were shy and didn’t feel comfortable sharing, but the Limitless Health Institute staff reminded them that it was a safe place to share. This gave one of our participants the courage to sing an original song she wrote in front of the group. The song was something special to her because it described her emotions during the time it was written, and to have her peers listen and affirm those emotions was a good feeling for everyone. Through her sharing the song, other participants were inspired to share songs that were significant to them to express their feelings.”
KHCC provides Bronx residents with resources to help them advance as vibrant members of the Bronx community. KHCC is now running a small Summer Bridge teen internship program for 28 youth, in pods of 7 participants each. The teens are working in 4 community gardens, including KHCC’s own center-based garden, and supporting the operations of our daily food distribution program. The youth are also receiving a full curriculum of civics, college access, and technology training. Many will continue in KHCC’s Youth Leadership Council internship during the school year.
Song Connects Us is also available this summer at Fiver Children’s Foundation’s Camp WiFiver. The Song Connects Us summer session runs through mid-August, with a final performance online. Applications for the fall session are now being accepted here.