JUNE 7th 2016
ARTICLE BY: ARTS INTEGRATION MENOMONIE
Peter Yarrow’s “Don’t Laugh At Me” program stems from the folk singer’s organization, Operation Respect. As stated by the organization “The program is based on the theory that the cycle of hatred — the wellspring of prejudice, of wars, of much of the evil in the world — can only be confronted, and hopefully squashed, in childhood. To change the cycle, you have to get to the children.”
Throughout the event, the activist spoke of today’s need to have a more civil society. He emphasized that children need to not only be told to be civil, but shown how, especially in this time of political discourse. According to Steven Renfree, Executive Director of M.T.C.A., Peter Yarrow “helped us fulfill the Mabel Tainter’s mission of bringing our community together through the arts, and taking us on a journey that began with the Civil Rights era and progressing through his current artistic ventures. Everyone benefitted from this extraordinary experience.”
While Yarrow performed “Don’t Laugh at Me”, a video was played of local children taking part in A.I.M.’s Co-Teaching in and Through the Arts Program. Students from Wakanda, River Heights, Knapp, Downsville, and Oaklawn Elementary as well as the UW-Stout Child and Family Study Center were featured, responding visually to how it feels to be bullied.
During the concert, Yarrow was joined onstage by his son, Christopher. As Yarrow played guitar, Christopher accompanied him on a washtub bass, harmonizing to iconic songs such as “Blowin in the Wind” and “If I Had a Hammer”. During “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Yarrow even invited members of the audience to join him on stage sing as well.
Jill Klefstad, Program Director for UW-Stout Early Childhood Education UW-Stout shared, “For me, standing on the stage, singing Puff the Magic Dragon, was like reliving the 'high' of when I sang that song to the kindergarten children I taught years ago. As Peter says, Music speaks louder than words". The night with Peter, was instrumental in bringing us all together and appreciate the power of music. It was a night I will never forget".
While in Menomonie, Yarrow also paid a visit to the Paper Cow Theatre which is run by A.I.M. Executive Board Member and storyteller Kris Winter. A stop was also made at River Heights Elementary School to view the newly unveiled mural in the school’s library, painted by A.I.M. Executive Director Tami Weiss.