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Songs and words for hope: Raising voices of children and youth through music

December 21, 2023
by Nancy Shemrah Fallon

Leaders in science, education, and the musical arts from the Andrea Bocelli Foundation and the ECPC at Yale join in NYC to celebrate the transformative power of children, youth, and families to build a more peaceful world.

"In line with the Foundation mission of empowering people and communities, we work every day to bring out the potential of children and young people so that they may write the best possible story for their lives." – Laura Biancalani, CEO Andrea Bocelli Foundation

A Celebration of programs and initiatives

NEW YORK, NY —On the evening of December 11, representatives from the Yale Office of International Affairs and the Early Childhood Peace Consortium in the Yale Child Study Center welcomed a delegation from the Andrea Bocelli Foundation to the Yale Club in Midtown Manhattan to join in a year-end celebration of their programs and initiatives, demonstrated in their high-level sessions to member states at UN Headquarters in 2023, and through their common goal of empowering all children and youth through music.

Representing Yale and the Early Childhood Peace Consortium:

  • Nathan Camp—Associate Director for Partnership Development, Office of International Affairs
  • Dr. James F. Leckman—Neison Harris Professor in the Child Study Center and Professor of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health; Co-founder ECPC; Co-chair ECPC Research Division
  • Dr. Kyle D. Pruett—Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the Child Study Center and School of Nursing, Yale School of Medicine; Co-founder ECPC
  • N. Shemrah Fallon—Lead Research Assistant III in the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine; Director, ECPC Global Communications

Representing the Andrea Bocelli Foundation:

  • Laura Biancalani—CEO
  • Aurora Mondavi—Major Gift and Development Officer
  • Jacqueline Dominy—ABF Team UK
  • Giovanni Caccamo—Singer-songwriter, ABF Ambassador
  • Antos Zarillo—Tour Manager for Giovanni Caccamo

Andrea Bocelli Foundation (ABF): "Empowering youth through music and the arts", in pursuit of UN Sustainable Development Goal 4.7

On the morning of December 11, 2023, at the ECOSOC Chamber at the UN Secretariat, the ABF held the High-level Session "Empowering youth through music", sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations. Seated at the center of the chamber was ABF Founder, world-renowned Maestro Andrea Bocelli, who avowed,

"I hope will all my heart that these things that we say to teach [each] other here with passion can really be reflected in every part of the world, and that there are schools where children can take up music…"

During the Session, the Foundation marked the success of its global projects to UN member states and emphasized its approach to innovation in education for youth, in pursuit of UN Sustainable Development Goal 4.7 Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship. Exemplars demonstrated were the ABF Voices of chorus project, and the ABF GlobalLAB empowerment program. ABF Ambassador, singer-songwriter Giovanni Caccamo, unveiled the Cultural Manifesto on Change, an innovative ABF youth empowerment project in collaboration with the Vatican Museums and MAXXI museum of contemporary art.

“Change Manifesto" "Word to the Young" which, by listening deeply to the new generations (18–35-year-olds) addresses the fears, dramas, and difficulties of young people, converting them into resources of light. Imagine when the international edition of the Manifesto will be finished with inside testimonies and visions of the future from young people from all over the world with roots to build a future based on peace, inclusiveness, diversity, hope, circular economy. – Giovanni Caccamo

Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC): "Empowering children and families through music", underpinned by evidence-based science and practice

On September 28, 2023, at the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, ECPC held its High-level Session “Early Childhood Development (ECD): Pathways to Sustainable Peace”, sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Ireland, Colombia, and Chile to the United Nations. The Yale ECPC team of global experts included Drs. James F. Leckman, Catherine Panter-Brick, Sascha Hein, Rima Salah, and Siobhan Fitzpatrick. They, along with other ECPC global experts in science, practice, and policy, presented to member states on the interdisciplinary body of knowledge that can help build a peaceful, equitable, and sustainable world through effective ECD programming.

A formal reception followed at UNICEF House that premiered the new ECPC anthem “Seeds of Peace”, song f hope, composed by Geoffrey Hudson, and co-written by Dr. Marsha Pruett and Yale Clinical Professor Kyle D. Pruett. Professor Pruett, a former Whiffenpoof, proudly performed the anthem alongside the All-City Children’s Choir, a Music in Schools Initiative, directed by Mr. Rubén Rodríguez at the Yale School of Music. The choir featured 40 musically talented youth in grades 3–12, representing the array of public schools with unique themes and programs in New Haven, Connecticut.

In the video The Story of “Seeds of Peace", Song of Hope, told by Dr. Pruett and friends, we learn that surprisingly, the song’s lyrics are based on scientific findings, which show that sustainable ‘peace is possible’ through the transformative power of children and families, and that the words of refrain “Feeling safe at home, sows the seeds of peace”, are undeniably true.

"Why, we hope that you'll each take "Seeds of Peace", a gift of ECPC and the composer Geoffrey Hudson, and use it in your schools, your music programs, media outlets, your family gatherings, translated into your own languages, whenever you think the world needs some hope and repair. Don't let this be a one-time thing. This song's message is a seed of peace in its own right. We want it to spread widely enough to rival "The Teensy-Weensy Spider" in popularity. It's just as easy to sing but means infinitely more." – Dr. Kyle D. Pruett

Raising hope for children, youth, and families in 2024

The celebration among new friends from Yale, ECPC, and ABF concluded on a high note of good cheer with best wishes for “Happy Holidays”. In looking to 2024 and beyond, they made resolutions to further strengthen programs and initiatives designed to serve the wellbeing of all children and youth, especially those living in vulnerable situations, by elevating their voices through music and the creative arts, in concert with the arts of science and practice.

About the Office of International Affairs at Yale University

The Yale Office of International Affairs (OIA) is a university-wide resource that serves as the global liaison for all students, faculty, staff, and organizations involved in international activities and initiatives. Combining regional expertise with administrative capabilities, OIA fosters connections within the Yale community and abroad, while further strengthening Yale’s position as a leading global university that is committed to improving the world today and for future generations. bout the Office of International Affairs at Yale University. Learn more.

About the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC)

The ECPC is a global consortium of United Nations agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, academia, practitioners, and the private sector focused on sharing scientific and practice-based evidence on how investment in early childhood development (ECD) can contribute to sustainable peace, social cohesion, and social justice. We recognize that investing in ECD is a powerful and cost-effective strategy for reducing violence, poverty, and exclusion and for building peaceful societies. Learn more.

About the Andrea Bocelli Foundation (ABF)

The Andrea Bocelli Foundation mission is to empower people and communities suffering from disease, poverty, and social exclusion by promoting and supporting national and international humanitarian projects that help them overcome barriers and express their full potential. Learn more.

Submitted by Nancy Shemrah Fallon on December 20, 2023