Student-run organization YOUnison on April 30 joined with more than 140 organizations across 31 countries to host the inaugural Worldwide Day of Gratitude. The day was spent giving thanks through the arts to honor all the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic by posting unique renditions of Bill Wither’s iconic song “Lean on Me.”
Throughout the month of April, education organizations around the world, and various school districts came up with their own ways of sharing gratitude. Culminating on April 30, submissions for #LeanOnUs ranged from music to art projects and even dance routines, showcasing just how impactful the arts can be during this unprecedented time.
With help from numerous music organizations and artists, resources were created to show how anyone could get involved in the day. Teach Rock, and the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation founder Steven Van Zandt created a national sing-along of the song through the help of Sirius XM reaching their 30 million monthly listeners to cap off the day-long celebration.
The Worldwide Day of Gratitude has attracted the attention and collaboration from many organizations in music and education, including Amani Project, American Choral Directors Association, Arts Ed NJ, Australian Society of Music Education, Berklee Student Government Association, CMA Foundation, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), Conn-Selmer, CREO, D’Addario Foundation, Dansr, Drum Corps International, Grammy Museum, Grammy Music Education Coalition, Hal Leonard Corporation, Institute for Arts Integration, International Federation of Musicians, International Society for Music Education, John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Kappa Kappa Psi, Little Kids Orchestra, Kids Rock, Music Education Council (United Kingdom), Music First, Music for All, Music Performance Trust Fund, Music Service Learning, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, NAMM Foundation, National Association for Music Education, Noteflight, Pearl, Percussion Arts Society, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Save The Music Foundation, School Culture and Climate Initiative, SEL4NJ, Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, Spanish Society for Music Education, SpreadMusicNow, State Education Agencies Directors of Arts Education, System Blue, Teach Rock, The Lewis Prize, USBands, WGI, WURRLYedu, Yamaha and YOUnison.
“We wanted to create something special that anyone could participate in,” said YOUnison founder Andrew Morrison. “Regardless of age or musical/artistic experience, this was a way that we could all participate in a service project bigger than ourselves. We hope that we brought some light to any healthcare workers’ day. As education is in the midst of change, we hope that everybody can recognize how important arts education will be when we go back. These are unprecedented times, and to take away our students’ outlets to express themselves through creativity is taking away an educational right all of our students deserve.”
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