Tocando helps disconnected youth at Hart Elementary

October 13, 2014

As the last bell rings at the end of the school day, 35 students from Hart Elementary rush quickly through the halls, not to leave the school campus, but to get their instruments and prepare for their music lesson. Through collaboration with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s IGNITE initiative, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra (EPSO) is working to improve the range of health outcomes for disconnected youth through their Tocando! music program. The Foundation refers to “disconnected youth” as people between the ages of 7 – 18 years old who are not involved in out-of-school activities or working.

In partnership with the Foundation, EPSO is expanding their Tocando! program at Hart Elementary with a summer camp and is also growing their classes by adding 30 new students. Tocando! is a two hour, four-days a week after-school program that targets children 6-10 years of age who do not participate in any out-of-school activities. As an incentive for continued participation, each child receives a musical instrument for use throughout the duration of the program. Along with instruction in ear training, musicianship, choir, percussion/rhythm, orchestral instruments, Mexican traditional folk music and ensembles, students receive academic tutoring and a healthy snack.

“Children and their families are actively participating in a safe and positive learning environment,” says Bianca Aguilar, Associate Program Officer with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. “Music education is great vehicle for children to acquire valuable tools such as teamwork, self-confidence, leadership and academic success, which leads to healthy choices and outcomes.”

Watch the video on the Tocando program and how the program impacted Agustin, a Tocando student here.

IGNITE is an initiative of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation that is focused on improving a range of health outcomes by engaging disconnected youth in the Paso del Norte region through out-of-school programs. As a regional health leader, the Foundation will work to help kids grow-up healthy by increasing the quality of youth programming and by getting more disconnected kids into this high-quality programming.

For more information on Tocando, visit:

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