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At Fig, we believe in the power of a community that works together to identify needs and find solutions—one that creates connections and is passionate about helping its neighbors. Because of this, the Social Mission Partner Program began. Each year Fig partners with a nonprofit organization working to transform the community. This year we are partnering with SWAN: Scaling Walls A Note At A Time.
Scaling Walls a Note at a Time provides life-changing intervention for children affected by parental incarceration by mentoring them through the disciplines of music lessons and performance. We interviewed SWAN student 17-year-old Bryanna Still to get her take on how SWAN has impacted her life over the past 7 years.
Fig: Bryanna, SWAN has two aspects to their mission: Music and Mentoring. How has their music instruction helped you?
Bryanna: When I enrolled in SWAN, I would describe myself as a 10-year-old who had no control in her life. I had experienced abandonment, poverty, and homelessness. I’d been passed around like a football and was always told what I had to do, could not do, and what not to say. Emotionally, I allowed myself to be calloused as a way to numb myself and to lock the world out. When SWAN gave me voice lessons, I found a new language. Music freed me and I discovered something beautiful that I could control and a way to succeed. Within months I was singing the national anthem at the Clipper Stadium and shortly after that I sang a solo on stage at the Lancaster Convention Center for an audience of 2,500 with featured speaker Dr. Ben Carson on stage. Those were things I never dreamt I could achieve. In these past 7 years, there have been many other performances and musical training to improve my skills.
Fig: How has their mentoring impacted you?
Bryanna: SWAN gave me a moment to slow down and helped me to put the puzzle of my life together. Instead of throwing puzzle pieces at me or dragging me down a path, they created a path for me.
Fig: Who would you say you are?
Bryanna: I am a musician, an artist, and a girl who has strong empathy and really wants to help others.
Fig: As an incoming senior in high school, what are your future plans?
Bryanna: I want to be a music and art therapist. I see the callouses that others have but I know there is a softer side to them and know that music and art can help them express their feelings without words and it is a way for them to gain control. As an artist or musician, I have full control over what I create, what colors I will use or what song I will sing. It is freeing and gives life. I want to give that to others.