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  • Violence Prevention Alliance

VPA’s Drumming for Peace Positively Impacts Students

Students and teachers at Kingston High School take a group photo

Close to 100 students are benefitting from the Violence Prevention Alliance’s (VPA) Drumming for Peace project, which expanded to five additional institutions last year.

Jade Morgan, music teacher at Kingston High School, one of the beneficiary schools, said that the programme has had significant changes in the students' abilities to cooperate and resolve conflicts.

“Just before the final performance of the last school term, a notable disagreement erupted among the students. What stood out to me was how these students managed to come together and find a resolution, guided by our dedicated instructors. They channeled their energy into the music, and by the end of it all, it was almost as if the disagreement had never occurred,” he shared.

“This experience vividly illustrates the programme's positive impact on our students, fostering their teamwork and problem-solving skills,” he added.

In addition to these transformative effects, Mr Morgan said that the students are also gaining valuable instrumental skills that will undoubtedly benefit them in the future.

“Our instructors, who are seasoned drummers, include many alumni of Kingston High School and are creating a meaningful generational connection that underscores the programme’s lasting influence,” he said.

Jonelle Llewellyn, research associate at the VPA and project coordinator of the Drumming for Peace Project, said that the initiative has been impactful, with other schools reporting positive behaviour changes, especially in varied-risk individuals.

“The programme has enhanced community collaboration and peace building efforts,” she said.

She further noted that drumming can also serve as a pathway for career development, exposing children to professionals. “Within this setting, students impart both soft and life skills directly and indirectly, contributing to their overall personal and professional growth,” she said.

The institutions that are benefiting from the programme are: the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home and Hanbury Children’s Home in Manchester; Kingston High School in Kingston;

the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), School Leavers Institute and Steer Town Primary and Junior High School in St. Ann.

The project, which is being funded by the American Friends of Jamaica, entailed building on the existing methodology of the Drum Therapy Project, currently ongoing in community groups and childcare facilities.

Since 2020, the Drum Therapy Project has been piloted in six child-care facilitates under the mandate of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), the intervention has expanded to cover an additional seven in 2021.

With the observed impact of the intervention, it allowed partnering organisations to reach further; CPFSA identified nine other institutions, where caregivers are currently being trained, and the Rose Town Foundation expressed interest in the methodology, facilitated by VPA, and have incorporated the same into their educational programmes.

Miss Llewellyn said that research has demonstrated that drum therapy accelerates physical healing and boosts the immune system. In addition, specific studies conducted by professionals in the fields of music therapy and mental health show that drumming reduces tension, anxiety and stress.

A preliminary study of music therapy on COVID-19 patients in Italy found that this form of intervention produced dopamine, which induced pleasure, relaxation, lowered stress levels, and reduced overall distress. In children, they found it improved their overall mood, performance, attention and concentration.

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