This past December, Guitars for Kids Toronto donated 22 guitar set ups to BBBST’s Littles, providing them with a musical outlet during the pandemic.
At a time when youth are recognized as one of the most negatively affected populations by lockdown restrictions, music can give young people a positive outlet. Playing a musical instrument can reduce stress, increase happiness, and help youth process emotions.
Guitars for Kids Toronto has been supporting BBBST Littles since they began operating in 2018. Dave Wharry, the founder of Guitars for Kids Toronto, reached out to BBBST to establish a partnership in order to provide Littles with guitars, amps, strings, and more. Dave unfortunately passed away in the fall.
Doris Moro, Dave’s wife and co-founder of Guitars for Kids Toronto, shared that Dave strongly believed music had the ability to support children’s overall well-being and development. It was that belief that led him to start Guitars for Kids Toronto. As someone who was involved with music from a very young age, Dave had a deep appreciation for both playing and listening to music.
“He truly loved music,” Doris recalled with a smile. “He knew everything there was to know about so many musicians…his love of music wasn’t just an idea, it truly was organic, he spent countless hours studying and understanding music.”
Hours spent studying music turned into hours researching the positive effects of music on youth development.
“We looked at a lot of the research behind what music does for cognitive development, math, science, studying, and mental health in particular,” Doris said. “It helps for social isolation. I’m sure Dave felt that too. Music was a way to gather and be part of something. If you play guitar you can go into a group of friends and play, and people will come around and listen. It gives you something to talk about with other kids and makes you part of a group. It brings you out of whatever hardship you may be in. It gives you something to look forward to.”
Doris described Dave as a mentor, someone who always made time to empower people, teach them, and share a piece of advice or two despite a busy schedule.
“He cared about these kids,” said Doris.
Doris remembers the first guitar delivery that she and Dave made together, “there was a teenage boy and he played music in the Church program. As soon as we gave him the guitar he picked it up and just started playing.”
Guitars for Kids Toronto works to restore donated guitars and related equipment. Through a network of volunteers, they fix and refurbish them. Funds donated to Guitars for Kids Toronto goes towards fixing the used equipment. Once the guitars, amps, kits, bags, and other equipment are ready, it’s donated to recipients who have signed up to receive a guitar.
Doris describes bringing guitars to the kids as an incredible experience for herself, Dave and the children. According to Doris Delivering the guitars, “lights up their faces It made us feel very, very happy. It was quite incredible.”
When asked if any youth in particular stood out from their visits, Doris mentioned Arik; a young boy who had been playing on an old acoustic guitar. When presented with his new electric guitar he immediately grabbed it and began to play. Doris recalled how committed Arik’s family was to music, they always made sure that he had access to music lessons.
Playing the guitar has been an important outlet for Arik during the lockdown in Toronto. Without being able to play hockey or basketball with his friends, Arik’s mother, Lara, says that he now spends a lot of his time playing guitar. From playing Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, to learning Green Day songs, Arik says that he’s playing a lot more now that he’s stuck inside more.
Thankfully, due to Doris’ generosity this past December, young people facing adversity in Toronto were given the opportunity to play music at a time when they needed it most.