Harmony for Renfrew County Allows youth aged 12-18 yrs. of age to participate in various cultural activities using a Pay-it-Forward model. There are no financial costs, but students are expected to pay the tuition forward by doing meaningful volunteerism in their community. The program has impacted many youth, we know this because parents and caregivers have told us.

We have held classes for the following: Guitar, Musical Theatre, Improv, Visual Art, Bucket Drumming and Vocal. All students make a commitment to pay each hour of tuition forward by contributing to their community through meaningful volunteerism.

This program is only limited by our imagination.  This model can be used anywhere, to teach anything.  We need space, volunteers, teachers, facilitators, students who wish to learn, and any resources they may need!


Harmony for Renfrew County’s mandate is to increase self-esteem, self-respect, and to instil a sense of responsibility in youth of Renfrew County through the arts and volunteerism.


Our goal is to provide programming that has no financial fees or pre-requisites. Instead, the youth “pay it forward” through meaningful community volunteerism. For each hour of programming students receive, they will be obligated to participate in one hour of meaningful community volunteerism. The 3 key messages for the success of the program are:

  • “Pay it Forward”- the idea that a good deed given unto you is passed onto someone else. Thus, a small action can go a long way.
  • Respect- all individuals no matter what their age or socio-economic stature, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We expect all volunteers and students to treat one another with dignity and respect as well as respecting the instruments and facilities.
  • Inclusivity- the mandate that all individuals have a right to belong and to have a feeling and the reality of belonging.
  • All youth can fully participate

Harmony in Renfrew County was launched in Renfrew County through Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN). The program creates safe environments where students may grow, express themselves, build new friendships, and develop new skills. Harmony is available for youth 12 to 18 years of age with no other pre-requisites required.

The mandate of CPAN is to increase poverty awareness and the extent to which it affects children and youth living in poverty in our own community. Poverty directly relates to inclusion within a community. Inclusion is defined as:

“To be included is to be accepted and to be able to participate fully within our families, our communities, and our society. Those who are excluded whether because of poverty, ill health, gender, race or lack of education, do not have the opportunity for full participation in the economic and social benefits of society”

(Health Canada 2000)

CPAN’s goal is to promote a vision of a Renfrew County where all children belong. Every child should know the feeling and the reality of belonging in their community.

Along with feeling a sense of belonging, there are numerous benefits to a program such as Harmony for Renfrew County. Playing a musical instrument has been found to improve spatial ability, learning, and recall. Emotionally, Harmony will help students gain self-esteem, self-respect and a sense of purpose. Not only through their sense of accomplishment from learning to play a musical instrument but also by showcasing their talent to others through public performances (See: Harmony BBQ photos) and the rewarding feeling that comes from giving back to the community. These adolescents will learn the valuable lesson of “paying it forward” and how sometimes a little can go a very long way.


  1. Build the self-esteem of the youth
  2. Encourage accountability and responsibility in youth
  3. Help the youth create Harmony within themselves, each other and the world
  4. Teach the youth about the value of volunteerism
  5. Help the youth to use time productively
  6. Assist youth to “Pay-it-Forward”
  7. Teach youth to respect all people, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, religion, or age. And show others how our youth can be productive members of community who should be respected.
  8. Reduce instances of bullying and illegal activity among youth
  9. Teaching youth about the value of education
  10. Close the gap between youth and the community


Music and the arts are an essential skill of self-expression that every individual should have a right to. Music and the arts should not be considered a privilege to only those that have the financial means. With the ever-increasing cost of instruction, instruments, and equipment, many families cannot afford to enrol their children in lessons. Harmony strives to break down these financial barriers by providing financially free lessons to any youth interested regardless of family finances.


All students between the ages of 12 and 18 are welcome to participate in the program no matter their socio-economic stature, physical or mental ability. The program’s principle mandate of self-esteem means that there is zero-tolerance for bullying. Any student that “bullies” will be ejected from the program and another youth will then fill their place. All students must sign a “pay-it-forward” contract, meaning that they must give back to the community in one facet or another, with no exceptions. All students have a choice whether or not they would like to perform in concerts or public performances. Students can pay it forward by volunteering in many different capacities, and can always find something that suits, or they feel comfortable doing. All volunteer opportunities must first be authorized by Harmony for Renfrew County.


Harmony for Renfrew County would like to take a less structured approach in an attempt to keep the program fun and enjoyable. The program facilitators will work with teachers to develop a teaching plan that will allow the students to learn about their instrument. For example guitar lessons will include chording, strumming, reading music, and eventually putting it all together in a song. Each student will have a binder that can be updated periodically with teacher and student notes and resources such as worksheets for reviewing lessons at home. A guitar, guitar case, tuner, and books are also available for sign out on a loan basis, as long as the student is in good standing.


The volunteers are the individuals that are going to make the Harmony for Renfrew County program a success. Anyone can volunteer for the program regardless if they are musically inclined or not. Volunteers are needed in all aspects of the program, we need volunteers to teach the lessons (these volunteers would need to have the ability to teach music), to facilitate, coordinate the program, or become an advisor.

Volunteers will be asked to administer satisfaction questionnaire’s to track the success of the program and determine where improvements can be made. There is no obligation to fulfil minimum time requirements, the program will be grateful for any time that you may be able to contribute.

This is a real opportunity not only for the Harmony students but also all for the Harmony volunteers. This program is unique in its message and its “pay-it-forward” principles. Renfrew County has never hosted a program quite like it. Volunteers can help to grow and expand the program to many other avenues of the arts such as voice, step dancing, fiddling, piano, theatre, writing, poetry, drawing, painting, etc.  In fact this model can be applied to any skill or talent, only limited by our imaginations. The volunteers of this program are able to give the youth a wonderful gift. The program will be just as much fun for the volunteers as it is for the youthp, who may also learn a skill (such as guitar) along the way.

Please note: * A volunteer package, including a police vulnerable citizen check and medical report must be completed before an individual may volunteer. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer, you would like to give a donation, or if you may have a suggestion for a “pay it forward” opportunity for Harmony students, feel free to contact our office.