Clarke’s Summer Campers Rocked with Green River Festival Headliner Michael Franti at Pop-Up Meet & Greet
40+ students who are deaf or hard of hearing connected with Franti, an activist, yoga teacher, and musician
NORTHAMPTON—More than 40 students from across the country who are deaf or hard of hearing enjoyed a spontaneous and private concert and Q&A with Green River Festival headliner Michael Franti, of Michael Franti & Spearhead, on July 14.
The youths, in the Pioneer Valley to attend the annual Summer Camp led by the Northampton-based nonprofit Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, heard Franti and singer/songwriter Victoria Canal play “The Sound of Sunshine”—at their special request—as well as a new release.
Campers meeting with Franti and Canal at Beacon Field in Greenfield listened as Franti shared his story of being adopted and growing up in a busy household, and they also had the chance to ask him about his music career.
“A ‘meet and greet’ with Michael Franti was not part of our planned camp programming,” said Claire Troiano, Clarke Northampton’s director of Mainstream Services and the educational administrator of Clarke’s K-8 Program, co-located at Leeds Elementary. “Teachers at our camp knew the band was in town for the festival and worked hard to coordinate this incredible camp activity, which was confirmed only the day prior! The kids and teachers were equally excited!”
Heather Stinson and Ashley Kachelmeyer, fans of Franti’s for years and teachers at the camp, invited Franti to visit with Clarke’s campers after learning he was headlining at the Green River Festival. “Michael’s humanitarian nature and the lyrics to his songs align with our philosophy at camp—inclusion, equality, and celebration of diversity and differences,” Troiano said.
Clarke leads its annual Summer Camp for children ages nine through 17 from July 8-20 in Easthampton on the Williston Northampton School campus. Campers, who use hearing technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants and communicate using listening and spoken language, participate in activities led by experienced teachers of the deaf and young adults with hearing loss.
The camp encourages leadership and independence while building skills and life-long friendships. This year’s camp theme, “free to be” aligns with Franti’s focus on social justice.
A world-renowned musician, Franti has been spreading his message of love, peace and social justice for decades. Among other endeavors, Franti’s Do It For The Love wish-granting nonprofit organization brings people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans to live concerts. Through the healing power of music, their goal is to inspire joy, hope and lasting celebratory memories.
About Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech
Since 1867, Clarke has provided children who are deaf or hard of hearing with the education needed to succeed in a hearing world, evolving to best meet the needs of children and families today through Infant-Toddler, virtual tVISIT (teleservice), Preschool, K-8, Mainstream and Summer Programs, as well as through hearing centers, comprehensive educational evaluations and research and professional development. Annually, more than 1,200 children and their families benefit from programs and services at five campuses: Boston, MA, Jacksonville, FL, New York City, Northampton, MA and Philadelphia, PA. Learn more at clarkeschools.org.