Friday, August 23, 2013

The Legacy of Amon Cashmere Harris

Today's ride started out mundane.  A steady, light rain while I ran some errands - sticking mostly to the trails because of the reduced visibility.  I was pleased with an opportunity to use the new bike racks at the Waterfront Costco, but I encountered nothing exceptional on the ride until the skies cleared and I joined a community group in Uptown celebrating the completion of a new mural.

At the corner of Gist St and Forbes Ave, Base Man with Moon by James Simon and 25 apprentices now sparkles in the sun.  It was there that I met an amazing woman, Tyian Battle.  In 2009 her 7 year old son died from a previously unknown heart condition.  Just trying to survive the loss of a child devastates many to the point of paralysis.  Tyian, however, kept moving - and found a way to channel her grief and energy into helping the other kids in the community.  In tribute to her son, she established a non-profit organization ACH Clear Pathways.  Named for her son (Amon Cashmere Harris) ACH Clear Pathways offers learning opportunities in the performing and visual arts.

This summer they had two separate programs for the kids.  One was the creation of an Urban Community Choir with opera singer Eugene Perry as their instructor.  At the completion of their training, the choir performed four songs including Lean on Me and Put a Little Love in Your Heart.  The other project was a summer art camp led by internationally known artist James Simon.  This beautiful mosaic mural was completed by Mr Simon with the help of the kids.

A handful of the 25 kids that worked on this mural showed up for the celebration today.  They were interviewed by the local media and proudly showed which parts they helped with.

This organization is not your average something-to-keep-the-kids-busy-for-the-summer club.  This is something offering the kids real opportunities to learn creative things with professionals.  This is something that these kids will look back on in 20 years and say "I did that!" with a sense of pride.  This organization is an amazing legacy to a little boy.

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