Vote for Deniz Kelemet's project

I picked up the viola at age nine and everyday since I've been grateful for it. Music has provided  me a with a creative outlet to express my emotions and a friend to turn to in times of hardship. It is a gift for which I am immensely thankful and wish to share with the world.  

That said, my choice of country for Project: Change was immediately clear; Turkey. It is the country of my father's birth which has played an extremely present role in my upbringing. From my name to the foods I eat at home, Turkey is a country I feel indescribably bonded to and it has been my life's dream to one day visit.  

The issue I've chosen to address in Turkey is the humanitarian crisis of the Syrian refugees. Despite the argument of politicians, the refugee crisis is not a matter of national security or economic threat. Rather it's a question of how much we as humans are willing to help our brothers and sisters in need.  Through my research, I discovered that perhaps the most under recognized threat to Syrian refugees (children in particular) is mental illness. Studies reveal that almost half of Syrian children exhibit symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms include panic attacks and crippling depression. Left untreated, PTSD may result in increased risk of addiction, crime, and gang violence, not to mention lifelong mental illnesses.  

With this in mind, I formulated my plan for Project: Change. I propose partnering with local humanitarian organizations in Turkey and teaching refugee children music in order to provide them with the necessary coping skills to manage the unspeakable violence they've witnessed. Proven studies reveal music's profound ability to aid in the process of healing trauma. It provides a non-verbal outlet for emotions associated with traumatic experiences, reduces anxiety and stress as well as enhances feelings of control, con?dence, and empowerment. A survey conducted by Turkish authorities reports that of the 55% of Syrian refugees in need of psychological services, only 5% receive them. The goal of this program is to provide this support in the form of musical healing to children who would otherwise find help inaccessible.   

The astounding healing power of music is one I have experienced first hand, and is a tool I know  will prove useful if implemented with this program. The refugee crisis in Turkey is an issue I am tremendously passionate about, in fact this entire project is a culmination of my life's passions; music, Turkey, and helping those in need. With this program I hope not only to touch the lives of refugees in Turkey, but to learn about both the Syrian and Turkish cultures and elicit change by drawing attention to the underestimated threat of mental illness in refugee children through musical education.

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Project Title:
Music and Mind
Issue Area:
Arts & Technology

Deniz Kelemet.

LaGrange, IL