Assignment: Education – Play It Forward

La Crosse Symphony Orchestra collects donated instruments for area kids.

There are many activities happening at the Mathy Center Boys and Girls Club in La Crosse.

“I think we’re really trying to help kids find their niche and find what they’re passionate about,” said Jake Brown, Boys and Girls Club Mathy Center director.

To reach this goal, the Boys and Girls Club pulled some strings to expose kids to a new activity.

“We’ve kind of been putting together a fine arts program, here, over the past year or so,” said Brown.

And string lessons are the newest addition to that program.

“This is my first year,” said Amarion Carter, a Lincoln Middle School seventh-grader.

“I’ve been playing for about a year,” said Mario Vang, a fellow Lincoln Middle School seventh-grader.

Amarion and Mario started playing the violin at school and were looking for a little extra support.

“I wanted to see if there was anything new I would learn,” Mario said.

“I think I need a little bit more help with this,” said Amarion. “And I think it will get me a little bit better.”

The new strings program was made possible after dozens of instruments were donated in the first-ever Play It Forward instrument drive hosted by the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra in February 2015.

“People would come in with them and share their story about what it meant to them and why they wanted it to continue with somebody else,” said Ken Riley, La Crosse Symphony Orchestra president.

One year later, those instruments are at the fingertips of area children who are receiving lessons from a professional with the orchestra.

“We are going to be taking, in the future, more kids,” said Brown. “With this being the first time we’re doing this, we’re really focusing on kids who had some experience. And then, from there, when this program builds, we’re focusing on more on getting those kids who haven’t had access to the violin and the viola to get some of those experiences.”

To help build the program, the orchestra is hosting another instrument donation drive.

“We want to continue to put more instruments in more hands,” said Riley. “We want to build the program. We want it to be more successful than it already has.”

The program’s success is music to the students’ ears.

“I’ll tell you right now, those six kids that are in it are extremely excited,” said Brown.

“I’d give a big thank you for all of the help, and stuff, and support,” said Amarion.

Play It Forward
Saturday, February 27
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Valley View Mall, Center Court
Accepting gently used, playable musical instruments.