Workshops & Youth Songs at

the Central Counties Youth Center

Workshops & Youth Songs at CCYC is an evolving collaboration between Ridgelines Teaching Artists and the Central Counties Youth Center, our region’s 5-county youth detention center.  We offer (or are developing) a range of programming at CCYC, including workshops in creative writing and songwriting. We also look forward to installing a Small-but-Mighty Poetry Library at CCYC in the late spring of 2021.

The core of Ridgelines' work at CCYC thus far is Youth Songs, an interactive concert series designed and led by local singer-songwriter Eric Ian Farmer. This program draws our region's at-risk youth--Court-detained young people who have had significant trauma in their lives--into a circle of artistic community, creating new paths for communication and change. In bi-monthly concerts, Youth Songs provides a soulful opportunity for CCYC residents to interact with a model of music-as-self-discovery; to connect with an expert teaching musician; and to share their own stories. Teaching Artist Eric Ian Farmer and Ridgelines have together designed Youth Songs to accommodate CCYC residents' brief stays, while providing a meaningful and memorable interaction through language arts--each concert (complete with a post-concert ice cream social!) is an encapsulated experience. By cultivating social connectedness and access to the possibilities of creative agency, Youth Songs aims to strengthen emotional literacy and the diversity of our region's language arts.

Farmer not only performs his own music during Youth Songs concerts, but foregrounds talking with young people, both as a group and one-on-one, about ideas as a way to encourage learning, connectedness, and expression. Ultimately, the program's goals, in Farmer's words, are "more understanding, and more peace. More understanding and peace within oneself, and more understanding and peace socially." Farmer also notes: “The arts can help us to make sense of, respond to, and grow from what happens in this world.  And the arts can help us to connect with other people going through those same processes.  The art of songwriting – sharing stories, hopes, and emotions through song – has been of great benefit to my own journey, and I appreciate the opportunity to engage local youth in this art.”

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Youth Songs at CCYC is supported in 2020 by a generous grant from the Centre Foundation's Patricia Farrell Music Fund