a call to action press release

January 4, 2013
America’s Insistent Violence: A Call To Action From Merge Education

20% of America’s young people today have a diagnosable mental health disorder. *
It’s time we take care of our children.

January 4, 2013 - Asheville, NC – Our country's moved away from basic human values, and our children are suffering. Merge Education has a solution that engages these young people: progressive fine arts taught with a strengths-based mentoring approach.

Hurt (adj.) Children Hurt (v.) Children

Children and youth who are struggling just to make it through can become different from their peers, and are often shunned or bullied. Many become depressed or angry and potentially vengeful.

How Do You Fix the Hurt? With a Preventive Intervention

We see the insistent violence in America as a call to action to address the needs of all youth, especially those who are most difficult to reach and often overlooked.

Our solution utilizes Merge Director Bill Rossi’s unique educational approach that incorporates strengths-based mentoring and long-term, high quality, progressive fine arts training. It’s excellence in education so it’s good for most youth – and especially effective with kids who are really in need.

This approach has an orientation of inclusivity, a creative sharing and celebration of our uniqueness and our commonality – of developing distinctive voices and building community.

The Strengths-Based Arts Mentoring Approach

A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Bill developed, implemented, and refined his approach until it was potent. One of his adult students who had experienced serious emotional challenges then offered to fund a program so that at risk youth could experience the same benefits he had as a result of studying with Bill.

For over 20 years, Bill worked with social workers, psychologists, educators, artists and program administrators to refine this approach. It ultimately served approximately 2,500 individuals (mostly youth).

Replicating the Approach

Bill has also developed effective ways of passing this approach on to others, including software especially designed for program evaluation and management and a 2-volume primer on the approach.

The Beauty’s in the Details

One facet of the approach is to expand student’s knowledge of the history of their craft. This often also expands their awareness of their own history. So many of today’s youth, for example, are exposed to little other than Hip Hop and Rock. But the roots of Hip Hop and Rock – Blues and Jazz – are distinctly Black music, international forms that, especially in the case of Jazz, can have a sophisticated elegance and beauty that transcend the challenge of race, class, or poverty. Jazz is, as Wynton Marsalis states, “egalitarian democracy in sound.”

The Blues and Jazz grew out of oppression – they were a people’s answer to slavery and the degradation of prejudice, and became a universal call for freedom for all people that have greatly influenced contemporary American music. Exploration of this tradition and history by learning the music it created leads into the humanities, and provides fertile ground for educating youth. It also opens doors for youth who might have only passing interest in Hip Hop and Rock but are excited by what they see as the more well-rounded progression of the Blues and Jazz.

Let’s Take Care of Our Children!

Bill and his wife Mary-Helen are looking to partner with like-minded people – agencies, organizations, and foundations – to develop a comprehensive initiative to serve America’s overlooked young people.

Visit http://merge-education.com/Bill-Rossi-Professional-Experience.php or contact Mary-Helen Rossi at mrossi@merge-education.com or 845.481.2300.

* The National Center for Children in Poverty, Mailman School of Public Health, University of Chicago http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_929.html. This data is supported by the Urban Institute’s “State Mental Health Systems for Children: a Review of the Literature and Available Data Sources, 2010.”