My family has been spending summers in the 1000 Islands in the St. Lawrence River since I was a child. As I have aged and introduced my own daughter to island living, it has become clearer to me how this place has influenced my life decisions, sense of friendship, love of the outdoors, and appreciation of hard work and inventive problem solving.

All of these thoughts were way more beautifully and eloquently expressed by the renowned and internationally touring singer songwriters who performed at the July 5th River Take Me Home concert. Jay Nash, Joe Purdy, G

arrison Starr, Chris Pierce, Eliza Moore with Matt DelVecchio on bass and Josh Day on drums along with Emilie Cardinaux lead an incredible night of music, celebrating the shared love of the St. Lawrence River and the 1000 Islands Region. The benefit concert supported the cultural, environmental and socioeconomic interests of the Upper St. Lawrence River and the River Community with all proceeds benefiting three local organizations.

I mistakenly left my ten-year-old daughter at home, but she now loves their amazing music! You might wonder how the concert and the music relate to children’s literacy:

  1. I have known Jay Nash (right), the concert founder/organizer, since he was starting out, playing in the local pub (as have many concert goers – fun reunion). It awes me to see someone’s dream come true; I feel it when I see my brother’s first novel in a library or bookstore and when I see Jay on stage. As a parent and educator, I can’t help but think about the people along the way who supported these artists in the pursuit of their dreams, and how important it is for all of us to encourage kids (and adults!), even if it is as simple as recommending a good book or giving an encouraging smile.
  2. Similarly, how can we help kids to create community around something meaningful? Research shows that kids with connections to a community will be more resilient and less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors. I’m lucky my parents brought us to the 1000 Islands; kids need the opportunity, and some bolstering, to find or create a like-minded group.
  3. I loved that the concert also showed how music can be individual and communal. Each singer/songwriter introduced their song with a story about its origins – what a special experience to share in that layered storytelling. Here are some ideas for adults to incorporate music into life.
  4. Garrison Starr introduced her song Hey Girl by talking about how songwriters feel and express their emotions differently than other people. Research shows that reading builds empathy, so it makes sense to me that readers would appreciate the storytelling of music. How can you use music to get kids reading or writing to express their feelings and reactions to the world?

CLiF’s Community Building grant will open in September, and CLiF recently added singer/songwriter Jon Gailmor to our presenter list. I hope some potential partner will apply for a Community Building grant to use songwriting to connect kids with stories and other adults in the community (here are about Community Building grants). Together we will nurture the next big stars!

Photo credit Talisa Simpson

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