Music is a passion for international singer and songwriter Sarah McLachlan, and next year she’ll be honored as the 2013 recipient of the Kiwanis International World Service Medal for her dedication to music education. The medal will be presented in June at the 98th Annual Kiwanis International Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Vancouver provides music education to underserved and at-risk youth at no cost. The school is dedicated to helping young people build community and find their voice.
“When I was growing up, we had music in our schools. It was a given. These days, many of these programs are not available. I don’t know what I would have done without music in my life when I was growing up,” McLachlan says. “I was unpopular and picked on, but for me, music was my refuge and solace—the one thing I knew I was good at; it fed me and kept me going.”
During the convention’s closing session, McLachlan will accept the award, speak and sing for the convention attendees. Performing at a Kiwanis event is not new to McLachlan. In 1987, she took first place at the Nova Scotia Kiwanis Music Festival.
Sparked by the influence of music in her life, McLachlan dreamed of opening a music school for inner- city youth. Her dream first took shape with the creation of The Sarah McLachlan Foundation in 1999, and in 2002, she launched a free after-school music program. Since then, more than 700 students have received instruction in piano, guitar, percussion, choir, voice, songwriting, student bands and sound lab.
In 2010, her foundation received a donated building from the Wolverton Foundation, allowing the foundation to create a permanent music school, the Sarah McLachlan School of Music.
The World Service Medal is presented annually at the Kiwanis International convention, being held next year in Vancouver. One medal is awarded each year to an individual or organization working to improve the quality of life for children. Previous winners have included actors and humanitarians Sir Roger Moore, Audrey Hepburn and Jamie Lee Curtis; First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Rosalynn Carter; and organizations Heifer International and Sleeping Children Around the World.