The Gift of Joy

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Uko Ono has joined forces with the Australian Red Cross to pilot its first ‘Uke Squad’ with Cultural and Linguistic Diverse (CALD) families from Happy Hearts Playgroup and Migrant Parenting Program.  Through a Coffs Harbour City Council Arts & Cultural Grant, Uko Ono will deliver weekly ukulele classes to up to 20 local families during school Term IV.

This project is all about the joy of music for our families,” says Amanda Flack, Migrant Playgroup Facilitator at Red Cross.  “It’s about sharing songs and stories. Through this sharing, we create a safe space to explore cultural identities, a sense of belonging to our community and JOY!"

Music has been used as a healing force for centuries, and music brings people together by reaching across barriers of language, age, nationality, status and culture.

Stephanie Ney, Director of Joy at Uko Ono says, “The ‘Uke Squad’ project will provide a means for people who may feel disconnected from society, whether it be by their health, their age, their economic situation or their ethnic background, to experience the feeling of connection, joy and value that comes from participating in music.”

To add an extra dimension to this project, three local Aboriginal artists are painting ukuleles donated by Coffs Guitar Shop as a special ‘welcome’ gift to each of the families in the program.  Celebrated artists Alison Williams from Yarrawarra Cultural Centre, Brentyn Lugnan and Danielle Burford are each decorating the ukuleles to connect the new families to our first culture.

For a small contribution of $40 to cover artist's costs, Uko Ono would like to invite readers to ‘sponsor’ one of these exquisite ukuleles for each family so that they can practice between sessions and keep the ukulele after the project has finished.

 “I am so pleased to be involved in this project – it’s like the gift that keeps giving,” says artist Danielle Burford.

To find out more about the project contact Stephanie Ney e: stephanie@ukoono.com.au.

artist Danielle Burford