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‘Mindfulness Matters’ event utilizes music to promote mental wellness | The Triangle

‘Mindfulness Matters’ event utilizes music to promote mental wellness

Photo by Liz Houck | The Triangle

On Nov. 17, the PHL Project: Mindfulness Matters hosted a salon that brought together Philadelphia based performers to promote mental wellness through music. Taking place at Drexel University’s ExCITe Center, it attracted audience members from across the city. 

The ExCITe Center, standing for Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies, is an academic center at Drexel. Transdisciplinary research is their specialty, but its mission extends beyond the academic realm.

“It’s both research and adding that community engagement to it as well,” the Project Director for Civic Technology, Andy Stutzman, said.

Following a STEAM-based education model, the ExCITe Center weaves the arts into science, technology, engineering and math. Whether through a workshop to create miniature robots or a video game creation studio, the ExCITe Center aims to provide West Philadelphia students access to unique technology.

“We try to bring science into the community in a way that [students] understand it,” Stuzman said. 

The outreach does not stop with students, though. The founder of the PHL Project: Mindfulness Matters, Rick White, first became connected with the ExCITe Center through a community initiative. Mr. White had heard about their Digital Equity Program, where refurbished computers were being provided to senior residents of Philadelphia. He reached out and quickly received a computer of his own. 

Two years after his initial introduction, his own organization, the PHL Project, was brought to Drexel University. What started as a resource for mental wellness and suicide prevention, expanded to promote healing, awareness and community care through the arts. 

Upon entering, an acoustic loop hummed in the background as conversations were bubbling in the crowd. Tom Krumm, a Berklee College of Music graduate, was the first performer. He played a complex yet soothing series of songs on the violin. Following the act were poets Mama Nzinga and Maya, who shared their approach to mental wellness through storytelling. 

Accompanied by members of Drexel’s Jazz Band, Shannon Tiffany wrapped up the night with a powerful vocal performance cover of Andra Day’s song “Rise Up.” From string musicians to poetry performances, an overarching sense of positivity and sense of community was created at the Mindfulness Matters Salon.

Using music as a vessel, the PHL Project encourages folks to express candidly about mental health. With communication becoming more digitized, opening up about your true emotions may be difficult. White believes in the value of connection through communication with those around us.

“We can’t judge what someone is going through based on how someone looks. We have to put mental health on the table. We have to talk about it,” emphasized White, “outreach to the community is priceless.”

Another Mindfulness Matters Salon will be hosted at the ExCITe Center on Thursday, Dec. 16. The organization values the unique perspective that college students have to offer and hopes to gain participation in their mission from Drexel University students.