“Music touches every heart and so should every heart have access to playing it.”
When the OMP board got together to pick a charity partner for 2024, we looked at what impact can be made long-term. One common theme was healing so when we read about Band of the Strong, we were moved by their goal of providing tools and opportunities to help kids and families. With the use of events, music, and art, they help children to reframe their thoughts and emotions about trauma to become the hero in their own stories. “In order to transform hurt into healing, we use the connection and introduction of community involvement with people who are working through similar life challenges”.
Zac and Zach started Band of the Strong as they had gone through their own traumas in life and had to find ways to continue to move forward. They chose to utilize music, writing, art, and sharing with a wider group of people, the founder found a way to transform their story of pain into one of healing – death turned to life. After realizing how powerful writing and music can be to the grieving mind, they asked a trusted friend to come together and build an outreach program to help children who also have experienced a similar loss.
Band of the Strong are a non-profit organization that gives musical and expressive arts opportunities to children and families in need. They have worked with a variety of children, different institutes, grief support groups, organizations that support foster children, and other similar organizations.
Their canvas for connection and healing is a cigar-box guitar. The cigar-box guitars are simple instruments, while they aren’t professional by any means, make noise and provide a great space for storytelling through painting, drawing, and more. If young people find a true passion for playing, we provide/donate actual instruments at that point.
“We specialize the themes and topics of our programming to better connect with our audience. We start with poetry/song writing, mix in visual art through painting and other mediums, and then move to listening to each other’s music. With all three (music, art, and writing) a person can begin to see into their own hearts and minds. With self-awareness and loving support from the community of people in the program, we can provide people with opportunities to see themselves and have it accepted by others. We use this time to talk, to support, and to realize we are all individuals in need of love no matter how broken the image might look on the outside. It is a powerful thing to show your rawest self and have it loved”.
After the events and sessions, they often get feedback on the impact the sessions had. They frequently receive follow up pictures and stories of children sleeping with their guitar that reminds them of their lost loved one, or by their guitar that gives them the strength and confidence to get up in the morning. Overall, each experience has been overwhelmingly positive, and they are ready to do more.
So why did they want to join Omaha Mom Prom as a partner? (yes we already know we are a cool event but …) “While we are not women, the majority of those in our field of healing and community support are. We see first-hand all the time the power and inventiveness that women have, which is largely different than how we think as men. It has always made sense to us that a synthesis of these perspectives is what would lead to a great organization. While we see many more women and children in the grief programs, we make it a mission to try to include men as in the grief programs as well. One of the most beneficial lessons I’ve learned from the women who raised me was the importance of understanding your heart and expressing those things. Most of the guys I meet are stoic, non-vulnerable, “manly-men.” This never seemed helpful or productive. To this, we hope that acting upon the influences from women in our lives can help men to realize vulnerability isn’t weakness and thus be more open, welcoming, and inclusive of the wonderful women in the world.”
So how can Omaha Mom Prom help? Band of the Strong’s current focus is on grieving children and families, and young people with disabilities. Omaha Mom Prom’s proceeds with help cover more events and growth to the program to impact more youth and families with traumatic situations, including multi-week programming. This will help children unveil the stories of grievers and empower them to hold and transform those stories, as well as programming meant to provide new experiences and perspective.