It started last year when École Puntledge Park Elementary did some class work around a project they called I Can with the goal of making the world a better place.
Teachers and students at École Puntledge Park found the project so powerful, that the staff committed to making it the school’s theme for 2013.
Puntledge teacher Doug David discovered singer-songwriter Jesse Ruben’s song We Can and introduced it to the staff. There was an instant connection, and the school embraced the song and adopted it as their theme for their I Can project.
The principal and teachers of the school were so inspired by the song that they created a music video and presented it to the students on the first day of school to motivate them and get them talking about what they dream of doing.
You can see the video at http://vimeo.com/48750771.
When Jen Turner, a Grade 4/5 teacher at École Puntledge Park contacted Jesse, it was to thank him for his music.
She wrote, “Your song was not only inspiring to the teachers, it has built an amazing confidence in the children to not only celebrating their “cans,” but also their future goals and dreams, and what they can we do to help in our school, community, world. Again, thank you for writing a song that inspires people young and old.”
In that letter, Turner asked Jesse if he would consider coming to Courtenay to share his message and music further with the kids at Puntledge and the community. To the surprise and delight of all involved, Jesse said yes.
When asked why he agreed to Turner’s request, Ruben wrote, “I am fortunate that almost every day, people thank me for my work and my contribution. As a writer, to know that I am making a difference is an incredible gift and honour.
“So when I found out that there was not only a school but also an entire district that had been moved by the concept of We Can, there was no question that I had to see it for myself.
“In my profession, we go where we are wanted. I cannot wait to meet the children and teachers who have taken my tiny little song and turned into a source of community and connectedness. It is something I never dreamed of when I was writing it, and I’m sure it is an experience I will treasure forever.”
So far the school delivered 500 pounds of food to the food bank in December, and created care package/Christmas presents for every homeless person in the Comox Valley. Every École Puntledge Park student adopted the EDAS Project (Everyone Deserves a Smile campaign).
This powerfully inspirational story also got the attention of Vancouver Island MusicFest staffer Cresslynn Fay.
“It is a remarkable thing and another example of the power of music,” said Fay. “So we’re going to help by presenting Jesse Ruben in concert with proceeds going to help cover the expenses of Jesse’s trip.”
This concert will take place Jan. 17 at the Cumberland Hotel at 8 p.m. Tickets are sold at the Cumberland Hotel, 250-336-8844 or online at www.islandmusicfest.com.
Ruben is a Philly-bred singer/songwriter living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has independently sold over 10,000 albums, gotten song placements on TV shows such as One Tree Hill, Degrassi, and Teen Mom and toured with Jewel, K.T. Tunstall, Rick Springfield, and Hanson.
Ruben has sold out venues across the U.S. with deeply personal performances that combine well-crafted pop songs with the stories they came from. Most recently, he achieved one of his greatest life goals when he hit the 5,000 Facebook friend limit, because it makes him feel cooler than he actually is.
Ruben is highly involved with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the largest non-profit focusing on spinal cord injury and paralysis. He is a co-chair of their Champions Committee, and has represented them three times in the NYC Marathon.
— Vancouver Island MusicFest