Harmonikids Session for Troubled Youth at a Detention Facility in Colorado


On July 6, 2017, I brought my Hohner-sponsored Harmonikids session to 20 participants at the DeNier Youth Services Center in Durango, Colorado. It was my fifth visit to this full-lockdown facility providing a nurturing environment designed to rehabilitate troubled youth detained by court order. It has become among my favorite facilities to provide Harmonikids services. Sadly, most of these teens are there ultimately as a result of abandonment, neglect, abuse, or violent childhood environments. Their confidence and self-esteem are likely shaken if not shattered – leaving them feeling broken, hopeless, and trapped. Harmonikids provides youth such as these a healthy and positive form of creative expression and emotional release 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 strong but gentle tool to help kids get back on track. Long ago I learned to never underestimate the power of using music and the harmonica as a therapeutic tool to reach out and make a difference in young lives. The following letter received from DeNier program director Karen Murray illustrates how positive that impact can be. She sites that Harmonikids programs have provided a "helpful coping mechanism" and "increased positive attitudes" in the youth at the facility.

~ Gary Allegretto, founding director of Harmonikids, www.harmonikids.org

"Thank you for coming to DeNier and sharing your love for music through Harmonikids with our students. The DeNier Center has learned that the youth find music a helpful coping mechanism and when given any structured free time outside of their regular daily schedule, music is a favored activity. Harmonikids has given students new skills and a healthy extracurricular activity to take with them once leaving the facility. Staff has also noted increased positive attitudes since Harmonikids has been introduced to the program. We cannot thank you enough for sharing the opportunity of music with our students. I look forward to working with you long into the future."

~ Karen Murray, Program Director, Robert E. DeNier Youth Services Center

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